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Finding Faith: The donkeys of Palm Sunday

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Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Lucien de Guise - published on 04/05/20

Full-sized wooden images of Christ on his humble steed were popular centuries ago.
A series that looks at the visual arts for signs of the universal Church in sometimes unexpected places.
DONKEY; Palm Sunday
Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

These days, Palm Sunday is very much about palms and very little about donkeys. Going back a few centuries, full-size wooden images of Christ on His humble steed were a much-loved part of the story. With wheels attached, they could move along to provide a processional accompaniment to all those palm fronds. These sculptures were popular in many parts of central and western Europe before the Reformation. A bronze version, without wheels, stands outside the Oberammagau Passion Play Theatre in Bavaria. Few donkeys got to have a coiffure as stylish as the one featured here from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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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