Agnolo di Cosimo (Bronzino): The descent of Christ into Limbo (1552)

(Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy)

Today it is Holy Saturday or 'Silent Saturday'. On this day of the Holy Week it is commemorated that the body of Christ lay in the tomb and the 'Harrowing of Hell' or 'the descent of Christ into hell or Limo'. The latter episode comes from the Gospel of Nicodemus. According to the story, after Christ died on the cross, the soul of Jesus descended into the Limbo of the Fathers or Patriarchs (a part of the realm of Hell). There the souls of people who despite the sins they may had committed, died in the friendship of God, waited. Jesus preached to these 'souls in prison', proclaimed the Good News, conquered death and the devil 'who has the power of death' and opened Heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him. On this great painting by Bronzino you can see this happening. Several characters are present, such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Judith, Isaac, David, Abraham, Saint John the Babtist, Jacob and the good thief (1 of the two criminals who were crucified together with Christ). Notice also the devils in the upper left corner who are powerless to stop Jesus from taking these souls from their realm. Painting from 1552.

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