Giotto, Joachim's Sacrifice

Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

This is the fourth panel in the chapel's series of images from the life of St. Joachim. In the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, III, an angel tells Joachim that her wife will bear a child. Joachim asks the angel to rest a while in his tent, but the angel suggests that he sacrifice an unblemished lamb instead, assuring Joachim that it is the Lord's will that he do so. The artist symbolizes that will by picturing a hand in the sky that blesses the sacrifice. The shepherd on the left raises his eyes to the hand and presses his own hands together in prayer, modeling for the viewer an appropriate response to the meaning of this event.

The angel stands on the right with a scepter of authority in his left hand, his raised right hand a conventional signifier of speech. In the center is the sacrificial lamb, "unblemished" like Christ, the "lamb of God" (John 1:29) whose sacrifice on the cross is the end to which this whole story is leading.

Read more about images of St. Joachim.

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