I have noticed that some crucifixes depict Christ with head still raised and eyes wide open with the lance wound in his side. Scripture tells us that the lance was thrust into his side after he was already dead. There is rich imagery in the “blood and water” which gush forth from the heart of the dead Christ, among which are the two constitutive elements of the Church (blood and water) which he purchased by his death. So my question is, when a crucifix displays the lance wound on the living Christ, is this meant to symbolize something, or is it a theological oversight? Or maybe I am just reading into this too much? I’ve always wondered. Thanks for your responses!
IMHO: You are reading too much into these differences. There is a certain amount of artistic license.
When I’ve noted this eyes-open vs eyes-shut:, there are usually the images of the Holy Mother and St. John on either side of the crucifix when the eyes are opened; thus, I take it that the artist was trying to combine several aspects of the passion into the image. When the eyes are shut, it’s usually a “stand alone” crucifix.
Keep in mind, this is one of the many Holy Images that as Catholics we use to remind ourselves of some aspect of our faith and we shouldn’t get too entangled in them so long as there is no deviation from the teachings of the church magisterium. Take for instance the image of the Divine Mercy… Red and Blue, streaming from the wound in Christ’s side, out reaching arms… a message to be conveyed in a manner we can hopefully understand; however, this image doesn’t take away from the crucifix in any way.
My favorite Crucifix is the Benedictine version. I own a couple and they are valid crucifixes however behind the head of the corpus is set a medal of St. Benedict. They are often used officially by clergy during deliverance prayer, solemn blessings and exorcism. Of course there was no such medal in the cross our Lord was brutally murdered on. However it is still valid because the key components are there combined with a certain degree of artistic license. The crucifix is mainly a focal point for prayer to remind us of the great sacrifice our Lord made for the salvation of our souls. The finer details are open to interpretation.
Thanks to both of you for your helpful responses!
Do I understand you correctly when you say the eyes are open (indicating alive). I must ask you the question; have you not seen a corpse with its eyes open? I have, many times.
I also agree that you may be reading too much into this whole issue.
Agreed. I have closed the eyelids of many upon death, may they rest in peace. But probably the real reason is the artistic license taken by the sculptor or painter. You will find this license in many works of art, so I agree you may be reading too much into the issue.