VISUAL THEOLOGY


The Last Judgment is a triptych attributed to German painter Hans Memling and painted between 1467 and 1471. It is now in the National Museum in Gdańsk in Poland. It was commissioned by Angelo Tani, an agent of the Medici at Bruges, but was captured at sea by Paul Beneke, a privateer from Danzig. (A lengthy lawsuit against the Hanseatic League demanded its return to Italy.) It was placed in the Basilica of the Assumption but in the 20th century it was moved to its present location. The central panel shows Jesus sitting in judgment on the world, while St Michael the Archangel is weighing souls and driving the damned towards Hell. The figure of St Michael stands on the earth directly below Christ, on the dividing line between the green soil to the left and the barren brown plain to the right. He wears a suit of armour in the same gleaming golden material as the globe on which Christ's feet rest. A red brocade cope hangs from his shoulders. His wings end in peacock feathers. Holding the scales in his right hand, he uses the crosier in his left to prick the flesh of the damned soul, as if to prod him towards the mouth of hell. Around him, as far as the eye can see, the dead rise up from their graves. The care and planning expended not only on the composition, but also on the representation of natural phenomena like foreshortening, light and reflection, are striking, as in the rest of Memling's oeuvre. St Michael's curved breastplate and the globe reflect the unfolding events with hallucinatory precision (only here do we see clearly how the Romanesque towers loom up behind the Gothic heavenly gates). The size of the figures reduces dizzyingly depending on how close or distant they are. The colours of the rainbow are accurately reproduced •

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

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