Finding Faith: A 500-year-old warning against working on Sunday


The alabaster statue was a reminder to keep the Sabbath.

A series that looks at the visual arts for signs of the universal Church in sometimes unexpected places.

The “Sunday Christ” is a manifestation of Our Lord that is seldom encountered these days. This rare survivor from circa 1500 is in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. In England and much of Central Europe, the figure of a stout, workmanlike Christ was used as a warning against breaking the Sabbath. England was famous for its alabaster statues. They were painted originally, and it is certain that Christ’s remaining hand would have had a profusion of red to show tradesmen how working on the day of rest was to crucify the Man of Sorrows once again.

Photo by Lucien de Guise

Lucien de Guise is on Instagram @crossxcultural. As a Catholic writer, editor, curator and former museum director, his aim is to build bridges through art.

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