In the Basilica of St. Thérèse, in Lisieux, France, there is a crucifix which depicts Jesus’ hands not nailed to the cross. Does anyone know or wish to speculate why it is so?
It seems a lot like Christ rejoicing in his passion. Hands raised in prayer were a prominent symbol in Early Christian iconography.
That crucifix at Lisieux reminds me of another piece shown below, Christ Crucified, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. This is thought to have depicted Christ as he was being lowered from the cross. Here the left hand is turned as if it were still nailed to the cross.
In the crucifix at Lisieux, the palm of the left hand is upturned, and the feet are turned as if they are no longer fastened to the cross. Therefore I suspect the Lisieux piece may have been taken from an earlier representation of the lowering of Jesus from the cross, and remounted on another cross in the manner of a crucifix.
Mere speculation here: To me it looks like the moment right after Jesus dies on the cross and his spirit rejoices in the saving power of our Triune God.
Thank you for sharing. This is a beautiful image.
I would add another personal interpretation. When I first saw the one in the Gardner Museum in Boston, the posture suggested to me that Jesus is reaching down to us, offering to lift us upward with his right hand as he points the way to heaven with his other hand.
Now, years later and after reading and learning more about the faith, I see yet another interpretation: He invites us to join him on the cross. Indeed, if we love him, we should be glad to be with him, even in those awful circumstances, to accompany him, to suffer with him, and perhaps to ease his suffering.
Probably not relevant to the OP question, but I wanted to share:
Another similar and frequently depicted image is St Francis of Assisi embracing Christ Crucified. (I do not know how old this image is)
To me it looks like the artist is combining the cross and the resurrection. I think it is important to note that all depictions are artist interpretations. IMO none I have seen are close to what it really looked like. For example, Jesus was probable naked, the nails were probable through the wrist and he was in excruciating pain and was starved for oxygen.
I ware a crucifix to morning mass and if I do some shopping after mass I often get a comment. “That is a beautiful cross!” Well it is actually a crucifix. I believe, the world does not want to face the fact of Jesus’ death! The resurrection is much more pleasant to contemplate, but the suffering and death saved us.
I’ve been trying to find some background to this question. It’s not the crucifix above the high altar, but above a side altar which holds relics of St Therese. Most of the sculptures in the basilica are by Robert Coin (1901-1988), but this one seems to be in a different style. Like the OP and other posters on this thread, I’m curious to learn more about the symbolism, which is wholly new to me.
This is the high altar, featuring the crucifix that one website describes as Robert Coin’s masterpiece. I’m still looking for a better photograph that shows the sculpture more clearly, to be able to compare it with the other one…
The OP’s crucifix is shown in this photograph on another website with the caption, un Christ à la fois crucifié et ressuscité ! literally “A Christ crucified and risen at once!” i.e., two images in one. It’s in the fourth of the six rows of photographs on this webpage (link below).
No source is given for this explanation, so I have no way of telling whether it was taken from an authoritative source, or whether it’s just someone giving his own personal interpretation. It makes sense, though, I think.
Thanks for your research findings. Here is a photo of the other crucifix which shows a little more detail:
Good! That makes it easier to compare them. I’d say they’re probably the work of two different sculptors. What do you think?
Yes, there are many differences, suggesting they are the work of different artists.
I’ve encountered the term “ressurectaifix”, but oy’s usually used in a derogatory manner.
About a decade ago, the US Bishops required (with narrow exceptions) that they be removed from altars–but i don’t know of any other limits.
@MaryFrancesRome, who wrote “it looks like the moment right after Jesus dies on the cross and his spirit rejoices,” and @Theo2, who wrote “To me it looks like the artist is combining the cross and the resurrection.”
On further reflection, I have to agree. It cannot be the descent from the cross because the figure looks full of life. See the head held high, and the natural posture and normal muscular tension of the arms and all parts of the body. This shows Jesus alive.
In most artistic depictions of the descent from the cross, the body is limp and the head is down, emphasizing that Jesus really and truly died.
Yes, you spotted it immediately. Congratulations!
The Christ in the Boston museum is like that, I think, clearly dead, with the head drooping to one side. It looks as though it might even, perhaps, have originally formed part of a Descent From the Cross with two or three other figures.
How? I’m not doubting you. but do you have more info?
Yes. There is a description on their website which says it was part of an ensemble:
The sculpture was originally part of a much larger ensemble that depicted the body of the dead Christ being lowered from the cross. A large number of such sculptural groups were produced in small hill towns in Catalonia, to the north of Barcelona. It appears that the creativity of a few sculptural workshops in the region encouraged the production of these dramatic depictions.
While nothing is known of the ensemble to which this figure belonged, similar groups were made to be displayed over the high altar of local community churches. With nearly life-size, naturalistically painted figures, such depictions — almost re-enactments — of Christ’s removal from the cross provided dramatic narratives for congregations.
Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 23.
Also it appears that the figure of Christ originally bore a crown of thorns. All that’s left of that is a number of small holes encircling the head.
I don’t have much more, no.
I suppose searching the archives here, or the decrees from the USCCB.
Also, I’m not sure I spelled it right.
The use of a Risen Christ, rather than a crucifix, for the altar cross, was deemed an abuse. Churches with these were ordered to replace them within a time period. I believe the exceptions were for significant art work or architecture, or some such, but it’s been a while.
Regarding the OP: not a fan