Cleansing Fire

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Majestas Domini and the Angels of Judgment

August 10th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

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Mosaic ceiling of the interior of the baptistry of Saint John the Baptist in Florence, Italy.

(Click on pictures to see larger images.)

Begun in 1225 and completed in the 14th century, the mosaic composition is dominated by a Last Judgment scene featuring a Majestas Domini familiar to us as of the same type as we saw in the Blessed David Chapel, Thessalonica (ca. 425-50). The four creatures of the apocalypse are not present in this image, however, and Christ here extends his arms and hands as we saw in the scene of the Last Judgement in the tympanum of Autun Cathedral, presenting to us the saved on his right and the damned, on his left.

Choirs of Angels –Dominations, Powers, Archangels, Angels, Principalities, Virtues and Thrones occupy the top tiers of the ceiling and scenes from Genesis, stories of Joseph, stories of Mary and Christ and finally, in the lower tier, stories of Saint John the Baptist, fill out the other sections.

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Constructed in what is called the Florentine Romanesque style, sometime between 1059 and 1128, the baptistry itself is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Florence. The octagonal shape of the building signifies the six days of creation, the Day of Rest, and a day of re-creation through the Sacrament of Baptism. It is an ancient tradition of the Church, going back to the earliest centuries of Christianity, to construct octagonal baptistries and/or baptismal fonts.

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2 Responses to “Majestas Domini and the Angels of Judgment”

  1. avatar ROBERT says:

    Magnaficant and a true tribute to the faith! It was a wonderful site when I visited the great city of Florence. Nothing today could ever capture the details of the Baptisry and not to mention the “Domo”. The precision of the inlay of marble and the great dome could never be dne today. Precision!
    I have always concidered Florence as the “Disneyland” of the Renissance! A memorable trip and a great wonder of the “Church”.

  2. avatar Scott W. says:

    Medieval art seems to me a good antidote to the modern extremes of distorted chaos on the one end and imagination-stunted photorealism on the other.


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