The Slaughter of the Innocents

Mid-14th century
Pomposa Abbey, Italy

Herod on the right orders the massacre, which the soldiers execute on the left. Above that scene, the Holy Family flees to Egypt. The man walking behind them should be Salome, Mary's stepfather.

Usually Flight images have Mary on an ass holding the child. But here Joseph carries Jesus on his shoulders while Mary proceeds on foot. It is possible that this choice was influenced by the commonplace in the exegeses that in taking Jesus into Egypt Joseph prefigured the Christian preachers who would take Christianity into the world. See the Glossa (Migne CXIV, 75-76) and pseudo-Bede (Migne XCII, 13).

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Read more about images of the Slaughter of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt.

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