Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 17 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Rainier of Pisa
home iconTravel
line break icon

The Resurrection of Christ in art

Hans Rottenhammer | Wikicommons | Public Domain

Hans Rottenhammer (1564–1625) ~ Resurrection of Christ

Daniel Esparza - published on 04/16/17

A relatively “new” motif in Christian art, the moment of the Resurrection is not described in the Gospels.

The Resurrection of Jesus, it goes without saying, is central to Christian faith and, consequently, to Christian art. It has been represented either as a single scene or icon standing on its own, or as belonging to a cycle of the Life of Christ (more specifically, to the narrative of the Passion of the Christ). Interestingly, it is a relatively recent motif in Christian art. In fact, it was not represented directly but rather allegorically for over a thousand years, the reason being the moment of the Resurrection is not described as such in the Gospels. In fact, one might say the Resurrection is indeed a classic Gothic motif, instead of a Byzantine or Romanesque one.

During almost all the first 10 centuries of Christianism, the Resurrection was represented by schematic, symbolic depictions of Christ’s victory over death. The most common of them all would be the Chi Rhomonogram, depicting the first two Greek letters of the name of Christ (Chi, “X”; and Rho, “P”) encircled by a holy wreath symbolizing the triumphant rising of Christ from the grave. Later on, the scenes that are indeed described in the Gospels as related to the Resurrection (in particular, the disciples finding the empty grave and the encounter with Mary Magdalene –- the well-known  Noli Me Tangere motif), were then represented. Other scenes from the tradition, such as the Harrowing of Hell, which was already being portrayed in Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox art, grew popular in the West as well.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s deep faith shines in her viral performance on ...
Lords' Prayer
Philip Kosloski
What does “hallowed be thy name” mean in the Our Fath...
Magnús Sannleikur
5-year-old boy interrupts homily and asks for prayers for his int...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
4 Phrases about Jesus that you should never say to your child
Revista Misión
Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sac...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.