The Sancta Sanctorum Reliquary Box: Detail, The Resurrection

6th century
Carved wood, engraved and partially gilded; encaustic painting on wood, 9.4 x 7 x .4 in. (24 x 18.4 x 1 cm.)
Chapel of St. Peter Martyr, Vatican City

Built by the Em­per­or Con­stan­tine in 335, the Aedi­cula be­low the Church of the Holy Se­pul­cher en­closes what is be­lieved to be the tomb of Je­sus.

The cover of the box has five brightly colored panels on the life of Christ. In this one the angel informs "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" that "He is not here, for he is risen" (Matthew 28:1-8). The Mary on the left is Mary Magdalene, wearing red in contrast to "the other Mary" whom the artist assumes to be the mother of Jesus, with the same halo and blue mantle identifying her in the other panels. In a later work Remigius of Auxerre (841-908) appears to share this opinion: "Mary is the name of Christ's mother; and one name is twice repeated for two women, because herein is figured the Church coming out of the two nations, the Gentiles and the Jews. and being yet one" (Catena, I, 976).

The image of the tomb in the center is modeled on the Aedicula in Jerusalem, which encloses what was believed to be the actual tomb of Jesus.

View the entire cover of the box.
Read more about the Resurrection.