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FEAST - Saints for the Day (Dec. 28): The Holy Innocents


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 28 Dec 2015 23:40:20 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

In the general Roman Calendar and in calendars of other churches influenced by it today (28. December) is the feast of the Holy Innocents. We read about these sacrificial victims for Christ from Matthew 2: 16-18. Their feast in Rome seems to be no older than the later fourth century. Its stational church is San Paolo fuori le Mura, which latter is said to hold relics of them. Byzantine-rite churches celebrate this feast on 29. December. Herewith a number of late antique and medieval representations of the Massacre of the Innocents (including some early antecedents of the German soldier of World War I as portrayed in Allied propaganda with a Belgian baby on his bayonet):

a) as portrayed (panel at top) in an earlier fifth-century ivory plaque (ca. 401-433) in the Bode-Museum in Berlin:


b) as depicted in a fifth-century mosaic in Rome's basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore:


c) as portrayed on a later sixth-century ivory pyx in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (photograph courtesy of Genevra Kornbluth):


d) as portrayed on a ninth-century ivory plaque re-used for the upper cover of a late tenth-century Gospels from Metz (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 9393):


e) as depicted in the later tenth-century Codex Egberti, a book of Gospel pericopes (Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Ms. 24, fol. 15v):


f) as depicted in a late tenth- or earlier eleventh-century troper from Autun (betw. 996 and 1024; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 1169, fol. 11r):


g) as portrayed in relief (first three segments at left) on a panel from an early eleventh-century choir screen from the church of St. Domenica (Sv. Nediljica) in Zadar, now in the Arheološki muzej - Zadar in that city:


h) as depicted in the late eleventh- or mid-twelfth century frescoes in the église Saint-Aignan at Brinay (Cher):





Location in the church (east wall, upper register):


i) as portrayed in the mid-twelfth-century capital reliefs (ca. 1145; the better preserved portions of a longer frieze) on the central portal of the west facade, basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame, Chartres:


j) as depicted on a mid-twelfth-century copper-gilt plaque (of German origin) with champlevé enamel in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:


k) as depicted on one of the long sides of a mid- to late twelfth-century copper-gilt reliquary châsse (of Limousin origin) with champlevé enamel in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:


Detail view:


l) as depicted in a later twelfth-century fresco (ca. 1180) in the Panteón de los Reyes in the real basilica colegiata de San Isidoro, Léon:


Detail view:


m) as portrayed in high relief on the late twelfth-century west portal (betw. 1180 and 1190; restored from 1988 to 1995) of the basilique primatiale Saint-Trophime in Arles:

1) http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/france/arles/sttrophime/0162.jpg

2) https://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/france/arles/sttrophime/0139.jpg

n) as depicted in two of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (ca. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 10v, scs. 2A and 2B):

1) Herod sends his soldiers:


2) The massacre:


o) as portrayed on a late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century capital (ca. 1200) in the iglesia de Santa Cecilia, Aguilar de Campóo (Palencia):


Detail views:


p) as depicted (bottom register) in the earlier thirteenth-century apse mosaic (ca. 1220) of Rome's basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura (a medievally unusual image of the Innocents, showing them as nimbed martyrs standing side by side rather than as individual children being slaughtered; for another instance, see item mm, below):


In addition to being unusual that depiction is also seldom seen. Since basilica's rebuilding in the nineteenth century this section of the mosaic has been hidden from ordinary view by a neoclassical entablature:


q) as portrayed in high relief in an earlier thirteenth-century stone quatrefoil (betw. ca. 1220 and 1236) on the south portal of the west facade of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame, Amiens:


r) as portrayed in high relief on the lid of an earlier thirteenth-century iron baptismal font (ca. 1225) in the Hohe Domkirche St. Mariä Himmelfahrt at Hildesheim:


s) as portrayed in high relief (bottom register at right) on the tympanum of the mid-thirteenth-century cloister portal (ca. 1250) in the north facade of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame, Paris:


t) as depicted in an earlier thirteenth-century _Bible moralisée_ (ca. 1226-1251; Vienna, ÖNB, cod. 2554, fol. 21r):


u) as depicted in a mid- to late thirteenth-century psalter for the Use of Arras (Aix-en-Provence, Bibliothèque Méjanes, ms. 14, fol. XIr):


v) as portrayed in high relief on the tympanum of the late thirteenth-century north portal (betw. 1280 and ca. 1285) of the west facade of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame, Strasbourg:


w) as depicted in late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol.11v):


x) as depicted in a late thirteenth-century glass window panel in the basilique Saint-Urbain, Troyes:


y) as depicted in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (betw. ca. 1285 and ca. 1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 24r):


z) as portrayed in high relief on a fourteenth-century carved wooden panel in the Museo Civico d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Madama), Turin:


aa) as portrayed in high relief by Giovanni Pisano on his late thirteenth- or very early fourteenth-century pulpit (betw. 1297and 1301) in the chiesa di Sant'Andrea, Pistoia:


bb) as portrayed in high relief by Giovanni Pisano on his early fourteenth-century pulpit (1302 or 1303) in the cattedrale metropolitana primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta, Pisa:


cc) as depicted by Giotto di Bondone in his early fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1303 and 1305) in the Cappella degli Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua:


dd) as depicted by Duccio di Buoninsegna on a predella panel of his early fourteenth-century Maestà altarpiece (betw. 1308-1311) in the Museo del Opera del Duomo in Siena:


ee) as depicted on two lunettes in the exonarthex in the early fourteenth-century mosaics (betw. 1315 and 1321) in the Chora church (Kariye Camii) in Istanbul:

1) Overview:


Detail view:


2) Overview:



Detail views:


ff) as depicted by Giotto di Bondone and workshop (attrib.) in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (ca. 1320) in the lower church of the basilica di San Francesco, Assisi:


Detail view:


gg) as depicted by Giovanni di Bonino in a panel of the earlier fourteenth-century glass window (ca. 1334) in the basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Orvieto:


hh) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century Armenian-language Gospels from Khizan (1335; Paris, BnF, ms. Arménien 333, fol. 4v):


ii) as depicted in a suboptimally preserved earlier fourteenth-century fresco (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


Detail view:


jj) as depicted by the Master of Waltensburg / Waltensburger Meister / Maister da Vuorz in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco (ca. 1340) in the Pfarrkirche Sankt Zeno, Lüen (Graubünden / Grisons):


kk) as depicted by the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston in a mid-fourteenth-century copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language translation by Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 25v):


ll) as portrayed (at upper left) in the mid-fourteenth-century tympanum (ca. 1350) of the south portal of the église Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption at Mont-devant-Sassey (Meuse): 


mm) as depicted by Bartolo di Fredi with the assistance of his son Andrea di Bartolo in a late fourteenth-century panel painting (prob. 1380s) in the Walters Art Gallery and Museum, Baltimore:


nn) as depicted by Jakob Acker the Elder (at right) in a panel of the late fourteenth-century Anne and Mary window (ca. 1385; Anna-Marienfenster) in the Münster (ex-cathedral of the BVM) in Ulm:


oo) as portrayed (received into Heaven) in a fifteenth-century roof boss in the cathedral church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Norwich:



pp) as depicted in a fifteenth-century glass panel, remounted in a window of 1522, in the collégiale Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion (Gironde):


qq) as depicted (bottom register; view greatly expandable) in a an early fifteenth-century fresco (1407) in the chiesa parrocchiale di Santa Maria Assunta / Pfarrkirche St. Mariä Himmelfahrt in Terlano / Terlan (BZ) :


Detail view:


rr) as depicted in a mid-fifteenth-century missal according to the Use of Nantes (ca. 1450; Le Mans, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 223; fol. 16v):


ss) as depicted by Beato Angelico in a mid-fifteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1450 and 1453; formerly in the church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence) in Florence's Museo nazionale di San Marco:


tt) as depicted by Hugo van der Goes in a later fifteenth-century panel painting on the left wing of his Adoration of Magi altarpiece (before 1482) in the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg:


uu) as depicted by the Elmelunde Master in a later fifteenth-century vault painting (ca. 1480) in Keldby kirke, Keldby (Vordingborg Kommune), Sjælland:



vv) as depicted by Matteo di Giovanni in late fifteenth-century mosaic panels (ca. 1481) in the floor of the cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta, Siena:



Detail views:




ww) as depicted by Matteo di Giovanni in two very similar late fifteenth-century panel paintings:

1) in the chiesa di Sant'Agostino, Siena (1482):


2) in the Museo nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples (1488):


xx) as depicted in a late fifteenth-century breviary for the Use of Besançon (before 1498; Besançon, Bibliothèques municipales, ms. 69, p. 209):


yy) as depicted by the Elmelunde Master in a late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century vault painting (ca. 1500) in Elmelunde kirke, Elmelunde (Vordingborg Kommune), Sjælland:


I especially like the mother wounding the soldier above the eye with a cross-shaped dasher for a butter churn (this is Denmark, after all).

zz) as portrayed in late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century gilt and polychromed carved wooden figures (betw. 1498 and 1504) on the great altarpiece of the catedral primada de Santa María in Toledo:


aaa) as depicted (at upper left) in an earlier sixteenth-century glass roundel (ca. 1532) in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam:


bbb) as depicted by Theofanis Strelitzas-Bathas (Theophanes the Cretan) and sons in an earlier sixteenth-century fresco (betw. 1535 and 1540) in the katholikon of the Great Lavra on Mt. Athos:



John Dillon


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