The Crucifixion

St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome

St. Paul on the left and St. Peter on the right hold scrolls which are now unreadable. Behind each of them is a palm tree.

The edging of the image continues that of the frescoes on the longer wall to the right, which are thought to be from the 5th century. But the crucifixion scene is in a much later style. Jesus wears a loincloth rather than a collobium, and the figures flanking the foot of the cross are Mary and John, not Stephaton and Longinus.

On the other hand, the scene is probably earlier than the latter part of the 13th century, when western art began to emphasize the pathos of Jesus' death on the cross. Mary and John do not agonize over his sufferings; instead, their gestures invite the viewer to contemplate him as he stands on the cross – unbloodied, his side unwounded, and surrounded by a host of angels as if he were already in Heaven. Like John he looks directly at the viewer, and his arms stretch out as if in welcome.

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Read more about the Crucifixion, St. Peter, and St. Paul.

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