Workshop of Vitale da Bologna, The Raising of Lazarus

Mid-14th century
Pomposa Abbey, Italy

The fresco illustrates John 11:1-44. Martha and Mary, much obscured by the flaking of the plaster, kneel at the feet of Jesus, who gestures toward Lazarus. It is hard to tell whether his hand is holding a wand (as in the ancient version of this iconographic type) or in blessing configuration (as in the "modern" version).

Instead of a cave, Lazarus is being lifted up from a sarcophagus in front of a church. The use of a church may derive from the ancient custom of placing Lazarus in a small temple-like structure. The sarcophagus, not in John's gospel, parallels the one from which Christ emerges in so many Resurrection images.

The haloed man behind the two women may be St. Peter. We see him in other Lazarus images of this period, and it looks as if he has a square beard. Perhaps the haloed, beardless man behind him is St. John.

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