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Fred K

Crucifix icon - controversial?

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"I was appalled at the sexualization of Christ,” said Jenkins, who is not Catholic.<br style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; "><br style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; ">Read more: http://newsok.com/co...e#ixzz0lJ0aD93b

The photo of the icon appears to be a traditional Franciscan icon of the crucified Christ. The crucifix icon of San Damiano. Below is another version of this icon:

http://www.classic-c.../pics/m5001.jpg

I'm struck by two things:

1. I see why folks may interpret it as a bathroom sketch of the male organ - however, I've seen many similar icons with very similar outlines contained in them but never once thought to interpret it in that way.

2. the denial of the sexuality of Christ (in infant paintings of Jesus, the nudity is a sign that Jesus is fully human...)

3. the monsignor quoted in the article says that the distended stomach signifies the pain of Christ but I've long regarded it as evidence of a desire greater than hunger.

What do you think?

Edited by Fred K

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An icon of controversy (updated)

Let me be frank with you: I do not know quite what to make of a recent story in The Oklahoman about a bitter fight in a local Catholic church about — brace yourself — an allegedly obscene crucifix. . . .

But this is an icon and, clearly, one that shows the ties between the Christian East and the Franciscan tradition. The story does a good job of explaining that this is a San Damiano Cross (another example is at the top of this post), one based on clear archtypes and guidelines. I am not sure that this means the artist “designed” the cross, rather then “creating” or “writing” it, but the point is made. Click here for more examples of that crucifix.

As for the controversial part of the image, you can see that it is somewhat different — but not much — than the norm in the San Damiano archtype. . . .

Terry Mattingly, GetReligion.org, April 16

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Wow! and thanks for the link to the other thread on the place of genitals! Something to ponder, to be sure.

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As a Catholic, I'm so accustomed to crucifixes that this reaction of horror and shame helps me to to recover the original scandal of the cross.

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Fred, you are quite informed on these things. Would it have bee the custom to provide for the modesty of the crucified in Roman practice? I've always wondered if a loincloth was a medieval or earlier discretion in depicting Jesus Christ on the cross.

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Rich - the Gospels as well as historical accounts of crucifixion indicate that the condemned was naked: the humiliation was total. I believe that the earliest depictions of Jesus were as the good shepherd. It is apt that Christians cover the nakedness of Christ (unlike Lot's daughters) as well as understanding the crown of thorns and INRI in a non-ironic manner.

I see that wikipedia has a useful summary of the history of the depiction of the crucifixion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_in_the_arts

It's interesting that the earliest crucifixes showed a living Christ with little emphasis on suffering. The San Damiano also shows a living Christ, not visibly suffering. Most crucifixes I've seen today depict a dead Christ, which to me is a helpful sign which points beyond the depiction: He is not here - he has risen as he said... the distended belly never fails to move me, having a distended belly of the obverse kind :)

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Rich Kennedy wrote:

: Would it have bee the custom to provide for the modesty of the crucified in Roman practice?

FWIW, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the 4th century or thereabouts, said Christians were baptized in the nude to identify with the nakedness of Christ on the cross AND with the nakedness of Adam in the Garden of Eden; in other words, they identified with Christ in his death but also with Adam in his innocent, pre-fallen state (which Christ, as the second Adam, had come to restore).

St. Cyril was probably writing not too long after crucifixion had been made illegal (which would have been soon after Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, which was ALSO in the 4th century, yes?), so it's telling that one of the assumptions he and his fellow Christians worked with was that Christ had been crucified naked.

FWIW, some depictions of Jesus' baptism itself also portray him naked under the water, e.g., from the 6th century or thereabouts:

800px-Baptistery.Arians06.jpg

And some Orthodox (though I could not say how many) still depict it that way, more or less:

theophany-2.jpg

: I've always wondered if a loincloth was a medieval or earlier discretion in depicting Jesus Christ on the cross.

I'm not sure when it began, but I do know that, in the Renaissance, the RESURRECTED Christ was sometimes depicted nude, to symbolize the restored innocence of Adam. Hence, in Mel Gibson's movie (which was nothing if not heavily influenced by Renaissance art), Jesus wears a loincloth on the cross but is naked in the tomb.

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Rich Kennedy wrote:

: Would it have bee the custom to provide for the modesty of the crucified in Roman practice?

FWIW, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the 4th century or thereabouts, said Christians were baptized in the nude to identify with the nakedness of Christ on the cross AND with the nakedness of Adam in the Garden of Eden; in other words, they identified with Christ in his death but also with Adam in his innocent, pre-fallen state (which Christ, as the second Adam, had come to restore).

St. Cyril was probably writing not too long after crucifixion had been made illegal (which would have been soon after Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, which was ALSO in the 4th century, yes?), so it's telling that one of the assumptions he and his fellow Christians worked with was that Christ had been crucified naked.

FWIW, some depictions of Jesus' baptism itself also portray him naked under the water, e.g., from the 6th century or thereabouts:

800px-Baptistery.Arians06.jpg

And some Orthodox (though I could not say how many) still depict it that way, more or less:

theophany-2.jpg

: I've always wondered if a loincloth was a medieval or earlier discretion in depicting Jesus Christ on the cross.

I'm not sure when it began, but I do know that, in the Renaissance, the RESURRECTED Christ was sometimes depicted nude, to symbolize the restored innocence of Adam. Hence, in Mel Gibson's movie (which was nothing if not heavily influenced by Renaissance art), Jesus wears a loincloth on the cross but is naked in the tomb.

Interesting how the genitals are absent in those nude paintings.

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Interesting how the genitals are absent in those nude paintings.

Not quite. They are semi obscured, but not entirely absent.

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Jim Janknegt wrote:

: This is the earliest known narrative crucifixion and depicts Jesus with a loincloth, from around 420.

Interesting, it also puts the nails in the "wrong" place (in the palms of the hands rather than in the wrists or forearms).

And yes, I think Jesus' genitals are particularly clear in the 6th-century mosaic (or painting, or whatever it is); they are certainly obscured by the water somewhat, but you can see them between the waves.

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