Jacob's Ladder

12th-13th century
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

Genesis 28:10-22. Sleeping with a stone for a pillow, Jacob dreams of the angels of God ascending and descending a ladder to Heaven. By his side is the same amphora seen in the previous panel, though the pilgrim's staff and pack are not in sight. On the right he erects the stone into a shrine, pours oil on it from the amphora, and calls it Bethel, the House of God. Because the text specifically says the angels are "of God," the artist includes him in the picture, leaning down from Heaven to direct their comings and goings.

The inscription in the center says vidit iacob scalam summitas eius celos tangebat, "Jacob saw a ladder. Its top touched the Heavens." The other inscription says erexit iacob lapidem in titulum fundens oleum desuper, "Jacob erected the stone as a shrine, pouring oil upon it."

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