Sin in the Sistine Chapel?


I know that it is quite all right to portray Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in pictorial and engraven images. However, what about God the Father? I noticed that the roof of the Sistine Chapel portrays an image of God in communion with Adam. Is this all right?

Here is the image on the top of the Sistine Chapel, which I am referring to (Disclaimer: there is male nudity in this picture. But it’s from the Sistine Chapel, which is in Rome; so the picture isn’t pornographic.)

In any case, I am honestly concerned that anyone should attempt to visually portray God the Father–who, unlike Jesus, God the Son, did not take flesh upon himself (although he did at the same time, being one in essence with the Son. It’s probably confusing). Any thoughts?


Personally, I have no problem with it. I probably wouldn’t portray the Father this way, but then I’m not an Italian genius. (part Irish ;))

Still, your question raises another important point - If we are made in the image and likeness of God, presumably that includes all three Persons. So why do we never see the Holy Spirit portrayed artistically in human form?

And who knew God wears T-shirts? I really didn’t remember that part of the painting.


Originally quoted by digitonomy:

Still, your question raises another important point - If we are made in the image and likeness of God, presumably that includes all three Persons. So why do we never see the Holy Spirit portrayed artistically in human form?

Well, it’s interesting, because the Holy Spirit in Scripture and elsewhere is often portrayed as a dove rather than an human being. I suppose it’s all right to portray the Holy Spirit as a dove. At least I hope.


I believe there is no problem in portraying all the three persons of the Trinity in human form, although the Father is often portrayed as an old man in Renaissance paintings, like that in the Sistine chapel. Jesus is the one most often portrayed in human form because among the three persons of the Trinity, He is the one who took on human form at a definite time and place (as a Jewish carpenter) in our history. This makes it easy for any artist to imagine what Jesus must have looked like.Gerry :slight_smile:


Illustrating God the Father as an old man is a very common artistic device in Catholic art, and has been for many centuries, long before the Sistine Chapel was created. And it actually has a Biblical basis:

As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. {Daniel 7:9}

There’s thus nothing wrong with these represenations, so long as one understand they are just symbolic.


there is a famous icon that depicts all three persons of the Holy Trinity in human form, drawn by Andre Rublev in 1425. He depicts the loving familial relationship among the three persons, and how the viewer in contemplating this icon is drawn into this relationship. For this artist the Trinity is revealed in the story of the 3 angels who visit Abraham under the oak of Mamre, and promise that he and Sarah will have a son within the next year.



Here’s a link to the Rublev painting.


The picture painted by Michealangelo has obviously a part in the Creation of this world, Man and woman and so on. The story is about the Middle East, Italy and all other countries that are mentioned in the fantastic GOD story.

There is more and more evidence everyday of the truth of the creation of our world.

Jesus is on his way back, the story is continuing of cause when Jesus returns it will have a whole new feeling again that will enchant us.


If I recall correctly, the Holy Spirit has also been represented in medieval and renaissance art as fog or clouds…


another ancient thread being resurrected. I suppose we should be happy people are searching to see if their topics have already been covered, but it is a bit like deja vu all over again.


I understand your concern about depicting God the Father. We can depict God the Son, because of the Incarnation, as St. John of Damascus so eloquently put it at the time of the iconoclastic controversy.

I don’t necessarily have problems anymore with depications of God the Father, as long as it’s understood that the old man with a beard is a symbol, just as the dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit.

In my area is a shrine for Korean Catholics who were martyred for their faith in the 19th century, before Korea opened up. On the grounds is a statue of the Trinity. What struck me about the statue is that the faces of Jesus and God the Father are identical. In fact, this is a profound way of illustrating such passages as Col. 1:15 and Heb. 1:3.


I’m with you; it just doesn’t sit right with me. I think any attempt to depict God the Father through art is infinitely futile, as any human conceptualisation will ALWAYS fall short of the eternal perfection that is God the Father. If He had wished us to see him visually he would have shown us personally, as He has done with His Son or His Spirit.


Hmm, so he tried to draw something to represent what he can never see. How is this disrespectful, or a sin?


It’s not meant to be an actual depiction of the Father, but rather a symbol of Him. An imperfect symbol can represent something perfect. Scripture uses just such symbolism to describe Him, speaking of His hands, His mouth, His eyes, etc. even though we all know the Father doesn’t actually have such human appendages and organs. Even the Ancient of Days who the Son of Man approaches is not to be taken as a literal depiction of God the Father. Just as we believe the Holy Spirit is not actually a dove, the dove was a symbol for Him, so do we use the old man with a white beard as a symbol for the Father.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit