Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tomb as Holy of Holies

This is an interesting sculpture form the Catholic Church of St. Lazarus at Bethany.  It is the altar in the apse of the Church, and represents an empty sarcophagus.  I assume it is meant to represent the empty tomb of Christ which the resuscitation of Lazarus prefigures.  At any rate, the scene shows the empty sarcophagus of Christ, with the burial shroud resting on the edge.  On both sides angels open a veil to reveal the tomb.  The symbolic context seems to be an equation of the Holy of Holies with the Tomb (as in the Holy Sepulcher), the empty sarcophagus with the Ark, the shroud with the veil of the temple, and the two angels at the empty tomb with the temple Cherubim.

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