25 February 2012

St. John and the poisoned chalice


A detail from a stained glass window in Bardney, depicting St John holding a chalice containing a dragon or salamander:
Saint John the Evangelist is depicted holding a chalice, an allusion to his being put to the test by the high priest of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. The high priest said to him: "If you want me to believe in your god, I will give you some poison to drink and, if it does not harm you, it means that your god is the true God." Thus the picure shows Saint John making the gesture of blessing which was to neutralize the poison escaping from the chalice in the form of a small two-headed dragon. He was then able to drink the potion, according to the legend. The story was popularized through the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, but was inspired by the words of the Gospels. In St. Matthew, Jesus says to St. John and his brother: "You shall indeed share my cup." And in St. Mark's Gospel, the risen Christ sends his apostles out into the world promising them, among other things, protection against poison: "Faith will bring with it these miracles . . . if believers drink any deadly poison, they will come to no harm."
From the Flickr photostream of Tina Negus.

10 comments:

  1. This is an interesting story, but I'm more interested in the techniques used to create that image on stained glass. Amazing skill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My choice of words may have been incorrect; the source described it as a window, but the term "stained glass" was mine. Perhaps its etched or painted or treated in some other way.

      Delete
    2. It's etched, per your guess. An acid solution (like a slurry, or thick cream) is brushed on and left for varying lengths of time, depending on how deep a 'bite' you want. Often the work will be etched multiple times to achieve the masterful shading you see in a piece like this. You virtually NEVER see this level of work still done, btw. Far too time-consuming, and many of the chemicals used would have been frightfully toxic, especially w/o adequate ventilation. Also, like many techniques, they've just been lost because the people who knew how to do it have all died - sad to say!

      Delete
    3. The chalice in one piece of clear or white glass that has been silver stained (the yellow) and painted with black (lead) paint. It is a very easy process that I like to do in my kiln. Of course the paint available today is not nearly as toxic, but I do prefer to work with real silver stain. You can tell that the colored glass is seperate pieces in this instance. Sometimes they did use flash glass (clear glass with a thin layer of colored glass on top) that they could then paint and stain over the part that had been adraided/eaten away.

      Delete
  2. Soooo, the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Without looking at Google ... An old Danny Kaye comic movie?

      Lurker111

      Delete
    2. I had no idea, so I Googled it -

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS75NtlH3gI

      The phrase is used at 1:15 in the clip.

      Thanks, jk.

      Delete
    3. Aww, man. Sorry to be so obscure. I thought EVERYONE knew that bit. Not quite as well known as 'who's on first?', but still.

      Delete
  3. Word of mouth has it that the missionaries in the Southern Cook Islands (Rarotonga or Aitutaki, I forget) used a similar method to convert the locals: if I eat the sacred sugarcane and don't die, proves my God is better than yours.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Couldn't help but notice that his pinkie finger was properly raised.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...