Vincent de Kastav
The Slaughter of the Innocents

1474
Fresco
St. Mary's Church, Beram, Croatia

At left is a photograph of the Slaughter of the Innocents panel in the church frescos, followed by three detail photographs. Herod sits enthroned on the left with his sceptre. At his feet a woman weeps, as detailed in Matthew 2:17-18, "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (See the fourth picture at left.)

An interesting detail is the pair of crowned women in the background, one of whom cradles a child in her arms and watches with scant concern the beheading of someone else's child (second picture at left). Considering the crowns and the purple mantles that match Herod's, they are probably members of his family, perhaps the mothers of the two other Herods who figure in scripture. That is, the woman on the left could be the mother of Herod's son Herod Antipas, who was 17 and in Rome when Jesus was born. He is the one who would have John the Baptist killed (Matthew 14:6-12). The child in the other woman's arms could be Herod Agrippa, who was about 7 years old at the time. It is he who would order the death of St. James and the arrest of St. Peter (Acts 12:1-3).

To the left of these women are three men in the headgear of "unbelievers": one in a conical hat such as worn by medieval Jews, and two in turbans. (See the third picture at left.)

More of the Slaughter of the Innocents

Photographed at the church by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Date and author: Forterre, 313.