The Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem of Judaea in Palestine. Upon his birth, wise men preached to the people of the city, declaring that Jesus was the chosen one, and that, “according to prophecies” they had seen in the stars, he would become the next king of the Jews. Upon hearing the news, King Herod was overcome by terror at the possibility of losing his throne. He decided that killing Jesus was the only way to protect his royal status.

In a dream, Joseph, the carpenter, was ordered by God to escort Jesus and his mother to Egypt, where they would find refuge. Both Western and Eastern traditions agree that the method of transport most likely used by the holy family on their journey to Egypt would have been a donkey. In this situation, the Virgin Mary would have been seated on the donkey, holding the child Jesus in her arms and Joseph would have walked by their side, leading the way.