El Greco: Pentecost (1600)

(Museum del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

a painting by the Greek artist Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614), better known as 'El Greco' ('the Greek'). This painting was commissioned as a part of the main altarpiece for the church of the Augustine College of María de Aragón in Madrid. This piece shows the moment when the Holy Ghost, in the form of flames, rests on the Virgin and the Apostles. On Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, about 120 followers of Christ (including the 12 Apostles and Mary) were in the the Upper Room when suddenly the Holy Spirit descended upon them and the followers started to speak in many languages:

1. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
4. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
(Acts 2: 1-5)

The Holy spirit is represented as a white dove at the top with flames of fire (the '
tongues of fire') upon the heads of the disciples. Painting from around 1600.