The Baptism of Christ

12th century?
Museum of the Convent of St. John the Baptist, Müstair, Switzerland

Jesus holds his hands in the "orant" (praying) position. The usual angel stands by with his garment and the usual dove descends, but unusually John the Baptist is not baptizing. Thus what is being represented is the moment after the baptism, with Jesus praying as in Luke 3:21-22, whereupon "the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him."

The piled-up look of the water refers to the statement in the commentaries that when Jesus entered the Jordan it "turned back and stopped flowing, rising up in a heap."1 The piled-up water is also seen in this mosaic in the Palatine Chapel's Baptism of Christ and this relief in a Croatian cathedral.

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More of the Baptism of Christ

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 Jensen, 12-13. Jensen cites Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Words 'Incarnate' and 'Made Man', ¶15 and others.