Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Basic Christian Iconography: the Holy Trinity at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church

September 8th, 2015, Promulgated by Bernie

 (Click on pictures to see clearer, larger images)

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Fig. 1  St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Irondequoit, NY (Home of the Traditional Latin Mass Community) in the Diocese of Rochester.

Suspended over the high altar at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Irondequoit is a modern mid twentieth century presentation of Trinitarian imagery that may have first appeared around the 14th century in Europe. This traditional presentation of the Trinity is represented as three figures grouped within a circular mandorla or full body halo.


Fig 2  The Holy Trinity, St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

One figure, a dove, symbolizes God the Holy Spirit and occupies a position in the grouping between God the Father, represented as a large kingly figure and God the Son, crucified.

It is mildly interesting that Saint Thomas the Apostle Church is now home to the Traditional Latin Mass Community in Rochester which recently moved from a church, St. Stanislaus Kostka, that also had the same iconic imagery of the Trinity over its altar.

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Fig. 3  The Holy Trinity, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Rochester, NY. In this composition the Holy Spirit is at the top of the composition.

This icon of the Holy Trinity is actually quite common in the history of Christian art.

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Fig. 4  Mercy Seat, Michiel van der Borch from a 1332 copy of the Rhyme Bible.

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Fig. 5  Master GH (1400 – 1500) (Unknown) Holy Trinity, Central Panel from the High Altar of the Trinity Church, Mosóc 1471. Hungarian National Gallery

15_Austrian_Trinity with Christ Crucified National gallery London The Trinity with Christ Crucified about 1410   AUSTRIAN

Fig. 6  Trinity with Christ Crucified, National Gallery London
about 1410, Austrian

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Fig. 7  Albrecht Durer 1471-1528. The Adoration of the Trinity, 1511 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Once again, we see that the Holy Spirit is represented above the Father and the Son.


Fig. 8  The Trinity with Saint Mary Magdalen and Saint John the Baptist, the Archangel Raphael and Tobias 1491-94 Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi)


Fig. 9  The Holy Trinity with St Jerome and Two Saints by Andrea Del Castagno, 1453. This is unusual in that the Trinity is depicted in perspective.


Fig. 10  Masaccio, 1428, Early Renaissance, fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence Italy.

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Fig. 11  Frans Floris 1517-1570, Allegory of the Trinity, The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Gathering and Protecting Humanity 1562, Eglise Saint-Sulpice, Paris


Fig. 12 Trinity, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1518. The arrangement here slightly alters the traditional iconic design and also introduces perspective.


Photo Credits:

Fig. 1  Bernard Dick

Fig. 2  Bernard Dick

Fig. 3  Bernard Dick

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Fig. 6  National Gallery, London

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One Response to “Basic Christian Iconography: the Holy Trinity at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church”

  1. ROBERT says:

    Beautiful post! Msgr. Burns really knew what he was doing when he designed and built St. Thomas. A wonderful church for the preservation of our heritage!

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