Why does the corpus on a crucifix sometimes look emaciated?

Okay, I know people in ancient Palestine would have almost always been thin and lithe, but it occurred to me that on a St Benedict cross I have, the corpus definitely looks malnourished.

Would this have been from fasting or is it just an artistic expression?

1 Like

Probably artistic. But wouldn’t the act of crucifixion make Our Lord look that way?

3 Likes

I don’t know. The body kind of reminds me of those pictures of people who escaped the concentration camps, or of a wartime village in Somalia.

It’s probably artistic. I would expect Jesus to be thin but muscular. He walked all the time for one thing, so he probably had strong legs. I also doubt he fasted much other than when he went into the desert, because he needed to keep his strength up to travel and preach, and he was constantly having dinner with people.

3 Likes

He was scourged and had thorns pounded into his head, plus had to carry a heavy cross part of the way, before the centurion helped him, all before he was crucified. So, yes – he would have looked emaciated.

5 Likes

How would this make a person look emaciated?

2 Likes

In addition to his lifestyle, well, wouldn’t he have been vomiting profusely from the pain?

1 Like

He probably lost a lot of blood. Remember, he had a spear jabbed into him, if I recall correctly, after he was on the cross.

1 Like

It’s sad to know in real life He would have looked a lot worse, than person in a concentration camp.

1 Like

It is maybe because artists often represented (and still sometimes do) the crucified body of Jesus bearing the same marks of suffering than their people, as a way of telling them that He was sharing and bearing their own suffering, rather than trying to be historically accurate.

One famous Renaissance example is Grunewald’s crucifixion from the Issenheim altarpiece, which was made for a hospital treating ergotism patients, and where the crucified body of Jesus bears the disease’s characteristic ulcers.

The Reformed monastery near where I live has a contemporary crucifix by Brazilian artist Guido Rocha, who represented Christ with the tortured body of the victims of the Brazilian and Chilean military dictatorships.

4 Likes

I really like this topic, which pushes us to look directly at Jesus on the Cross.

I am inclined towards artistic expression, but it is a mere opinion.

2 Likes

I guess it’s just a stylistic choice by the artist.

Being imprisoned and scourged the next day wouldn’t make a person emaciated.

2 Likes

I also think it is artistic expression. He just had the Passover meal with his disciples and he hadn’t been in the desert fasting recently.

Having said that, I’ve read that the corpus on the cross has been sanitized. It doesn’t show the sweat, the blood, the dirt and grime, and the spit that he would have had on him. Also, I’ve read that he would not have had a loin cloth. He would have been naked, another humiliation.

What he endured for us!

Thank you Lord Jesus!

Pax

2 Likes

@fredystairs

There were some crucifixes created with the corpus being naked, but that would never fly in today’s world since it is so obsessed with sex.

An emaciated body is a little bit more of an odd decision imo but not necessarily “wrong” because we can always substitute people’s suffering with Jesus’s Passion. Also we can remember that “whatever you did not do for these, you did not do for me”, in other words: those who are malnourished today are the equivalent of Jesus himself being malnourished. Except Jesus doesn’t say “the equivalent of”. He says directly “you did not do for me”.

1 Like

The Guido Rocha one I posted upthread is actually naked, but that body looks so painful and tormented that I’d find it hard to see any sexual association in it.

2 Likes

How about the opposite (a crucifix in South Korea)?

2 Likes

Some depictions of the crucifixion feature well defined and taught musculature to emphasise the severe strain of Christ holding himself up.

But those two are on a whole other level. It looks like Jesus is about to break free, descend from the cross and then start pummelling centurions.

4 Likes

I’m sorry, people, that’s just weird. That expression on His depicted Face is kind of creepy.

I have to think that depicting Christ as emaciated is artistic license, to make him look as wretched as possible, to help us to reflect on how our sins, and the suffering needed to redeem us from them, afflicted the body of the one perfect man who ever lived.

I’m really not fond of exaggeration, in either direction, when depicting the crucified Christ.

2 Likes

Wow. That’s some serious bodybuilding.

2 Likes

Jesus does bowflex 5x a week. :mechanical_arm:

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