Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Passion of St. John

This painting may be seen by visiting St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, Virginia

I can't figure out how to repost properly so thanks to the copy and paste feature here's what I wrote about John, and the Herodian clan, last year.


 The House of Herod was an astonishingly sick one even by the standards of the day. Herod the Great, was a monstrous individual and the first of a long line of anti-Christs. A Roman contemporary famously quipped that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son and that was true. Herod did not eat pork--in public anyway but his paranoia drove him to kill not only his wife, her mother and her still teen-aged brother but two of his sons as well.When Herod wasn't killing his family, he was killing enemies, real and imagined and making his subjects miserable. His viciousness was such that his courtiers probably weren't shocked when he ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents.

Herodias  who was a key figure in the Passion of St. John, was the granddaughter of Herod the Great by one of his murdered sons. She was married to her half uncle, Herod II, (also called Herod Phillip) a son by King Herod's third wife.  At some point she dumped  her husband and taking her daughter, Salome went off to Gallilee  in order to be with his half brother Herod Antipas, another son of Herod the Great by his fourth wife.  Her new husband, Herod Antipas was both her brother-in-law and her uncle.

St. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, of whom Our Lord said there was none greater born of woman, looked at the adulterous, incestuous couple and saw that they were crooked people sprung from a crooked house. Most people would've turned away, repulsed and given the situation up as hopeless  but John did not. The Gospels tell us the rest of the story. His passion is commemorated on August 29.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Now I know why this painting has bugged me since the first time I saw it! While the artist is talented, surely thus isn't the body of a man who lived in the desert and sustained himself by eating locusts and honey.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Depends on nutritive qualities of locusts and honey.