Monday 15 November 2010

Forbidden Image

"The following particular image may not be exposed for public veneration:

the Blessed Trinity depicted under the form of a man with three heads."

I found this delightful exclusion on page 98 of J. O'Connell's "Church Building and Furnishing - The Church's Way" (1955). It seems a rather recherche image but then many of the Church's negative directives only come about because someone somewhere has tried it. Lo and behold I then found this image from Monte Sant'Angelo, on the Gargano peninsula in southern Italy (not too far from St Giovanni Rotundo). The village grew up around a shrine said to have been founded in the 6th century AD, when St. Michael the Archangel appeared several times to a local bishop. It was a major pilgrimage destination in medieval times (St. Francis of Assisi was one of many who came here) and still is today. It is in a cave church and someone has taken the ban at its word and chopped off two of the three heads!

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