christ of saint john of cross

Above: Salvador Dalí painting St. John of the Cross

Photo: Daniel Farson

From Wiki: “Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí made in 1951. It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen. Although it is a depiction of the crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood, and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ. Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.

The painting is known as the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought. The circle represents Unity: all things do exist in the "three” but in the four, merry they be.

On the bottom of his studies for the painting, Dalí explained its inspiration: “In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the 'nucleus of the atom.’ This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it 'the very unity of the universe,’ the Christ!” In order to create the figure of Christ, Dalí had Hollywood stuntman Russell Saunders suspended from an overhead gantry, so he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle and also envisage the pull of gravity on the human body. The depicted body of water is the bay of Port Lligat, Dalí’s residence at the time of the painting.“ (via: wiki)

Above: A preparatory drawing for Christ of St. John of the Cross (Christ On The Cross From Top Perspective)

Above: The sketch that inspired Dalí. Crucifixion by St. John of the Cross, c. 1550

Saint John of the Cross had a vision while praying. The vision led to the drawing of Christ from above.

Saint John of the Cross (born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez) (1542– 14 December 1591) was a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint, a Carmelite friar.

Above: Dali painting St. John of the Cross - Photo: by Daniel Farson

Christ of St. John of the Cross, 1951, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow - Salvador Dali

Fra Angelico, Christ on the Cross, the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, and Cardinal Torquemada, 1453-4. 


Church of Saint Botolph, Cambridge (ca. 1890)

In case anyone wondered, above Mary (left), it says “Sta. [sancta] Maria mater dolorosa”, meaning “St. Mary the grieving mother”, while above St. John (right), it says “Stus [sanctus] Johannes discipulus”, meaning “St. John the disciple”. Below the ‘pelican’ feeding its young with its own blood (an allegory for Christ), it reads “Jhesus Pellicanus noster”, meaning “Jesus our pelican”. On either side of the pelican, it reads, in English, “We adore Thee O Christ we bless Thee” and “for by thy Cross & passion thou hast redeemed the world”. Below this, also in English, it reads “Deliver us from our enemies O our God”, “By the power of thy Cross”, and “In honour of Christ crucified to the memory of Stephen Parkinsen D.D. late Fellow and Tutor of St. John’s College, Cambridge, who died Ian. [January] 2nd 1889. Elizabeth L[?], his widow dedicates this window 1890”. Above everything, two angels hold scrolls which both read “Tu es Rex Gloria”, meaning “You are the king of glory”.

- Historical accuracy: his hair is so blond, it’s almost green, 3 nails, INRI, can I reiterate how white he is?? Also he has a wound but his eyes are open so that makes no sense (2/10)

- Physical appearance: once you get past the blinding whiteness, you can see that JC is very muscular, though I think the artist was trying to go for some kind of perspective on the arms, which falls somewhat flat (4/10)

- Aesthetic appeal: it’s a bit over-the-top in the best way, I guess, all those Gothic architectural elements in the background, as well as Cambridge rooftops behind JC’s lower legs (6/10)

- Accessories: 3 nails, INRI, cruciform nimbus, crown of thorns, floating green loincloth (7/10)

- Cross: the cross itself is fairly plain and not given much consideration, but there also appears to be a frame of some kind behind JC’s upper three quarters (7/10)

- Emotional appearance: John looks really angry, like why Jesus, why must you upstage me every time, but Mary doesn’t really look that concerned either, so maybe they know something we don’t? (3/10)

Bonuses: Pelican mother and pelican babies +4

Total rating: 5.4/10

Note: people used to think that pelicans did actually pierce their breasts so that their babies could drink their blood (hardcore, right?), and this story is likened to JC dying to save us all, so that’s why pelicans are an attribute of Christ


Veiled for Passiontide

As we enter into the final days of Lent, we veil the images throughout the church until Easter. The Gospel which, in former times, was read on this Sunday: As Christ hid himself from the rage of the authorities (John 8:59), so now he is hidden from the world in preparation for the mysteries of his passion.

“The presentiment of that awful hour of our Savior’s passion leads the afflicted mother, the Church, to veil the image of her Jesus: the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear either.“

“I am father, saith Christ,
I am brother, I am bridegroom,
I am dwelling place, I am food, I am raiment,
I am root, I am foundation: all whatsoever thou desirest, I am.
Be thou in need of nothing.
I will be even a servant,
for I came to minister, not to be ministered unto;
I am friend, and member, and head,
and brother, and sister, and mother;
I am all, only cling thou closely to Me.
I was poor for thee, and a wanderer for thee,
on the cross for thee, in the tomb for thee;
above, I intercede for thee;
on earth, I am come for thy sake
an ambassador from My father.
Thou art all things to Me:
brother, and joint heir, and friend, and member.
What more do you want?”

~St John Chrysostom

(Image via facebook)