Gospel in Glass: The Women & The Apostle John

In Christianity on March 13, 2011 at 4:02 am

Having established that the person at the foot of Christ’s cross is Mary Magdalene, let’s survey the remaining figures, saving attention for Our Lord’s Mother until later.

Various women are represented in the window. In addition to Mary Magdalene, there are figures who must include Mary’s sister and Mary the wife of Clopas, all mentioned in John 19:25. Mark 15:40 mentions Salome. Matthew’s Gospel adds, “There were many women there, looking on from a distance” (Matthew 27:55). Luke adds, while Simon the Cyrene was carrying Our Savior’s cross, the followers included “many women who mourned and lamented Him.”  Would we have followed, mourning and lamenting, or would we have run?

There is no key in the iconography to distinguish one from the other, unless we assume the sister of our Lord’s Mother would stand nearest her.   We cannot identify more. Yet the window is faithful to Matthew’s record: “Many women . . . followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.”

In addition to the women, in the background, to the right, we see the centurion who exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54) and, in Luke’s account, “this man was innocent beyond doubt” (Luke 23:47).

Finally, we see the Apostle John on the right, dressed in green, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 19:26). It was to St. John and to His Mother that our Lord addressed His final, tender instructions: “When Jesus saw his Mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his Mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your Mother’” — given to the disciple and to the Church.  Given to us!

Christianity . . . Richly!

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