Wednesday, December 28, 2005

December 28: Holy Innocents' Day

The painting to the right presents Duccio di Buoninsegna's vision of the Slaughter of the Innocents (1308-1311). The painting hangs in the Tuscan city of Siena's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, a medieval cathedral constructed between 1215 and 1263.

Hardly a day for celebration, Holy Innocents' Day commemorates the infants of Bethlehem that Matthew 2:16-18 reports King Herod ordering slaughtered in his attempt to kill the child (Jesus) that the three wise men had come to see because of a sign in the heavens announcing that a new king had been born in Bethlehem.

The Eastern Orthodox Church calls these infants the "first martyrs," displacing even St. Stephen from his otherwise preeminent place, but commemorates them on December 27th.

Nevertheless, December 28th is a Roman Catholic feast day, the one noted by Norman Boyer in yesterday's post as missing from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight after line 1022 but which, if present, must have depicted the lords and ladies feasting with wine, mirth, and singing.

We can perhaps raise at least a solemn glass.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Truly sobering. Thank you for the painting and the story.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jessica, if you haven't yet, just follow up the links and see a lot more on the topic -- especially more paintings by Duccio di Buoninsegna.


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