This mosaic depicting Christ healing the ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19) decorates the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily. The church features some of the largest and most important Greek mosaics of the twelfth century, including a Life of Christ that is dominated by images depicting Jesus’ miracles. In Christ’s encounter with the lepers, the apostles seem less than pleased. The lepers are covered in dark spots, the conventional markers of leprosy in art (which apparently originated in earlier images of Job), and they are shown gesturing frantically to gain Jesus’ attention.
This life-size marble sculpture was originally intended for the campanile, the bell tower adjacent to the Duomo, the main cathedral in Florence. It was part of a series of works featuring 16 Old Testament prophets. Nine were sculpted in the medieval period. Donatello and Nanni di Banco completed the remaining seven as a commission for the Opera del Duomo. The prophets, placed in niches, needed dramatic expressions that could be seen by observers at least 60 feet below. Jeremiah is depicted as middle aged and sorrowful. The psychological intensity of his life’s trials—imprisonment, betrayal, persecution—are manifest in his misshapen head. Jeremiah looks downward, demanding the repentance commanded by his message. The original sculpture is preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, and a copy is in the niche on the campanile.
The vanitas tradition in 17th-century Dutch still-life painting draws inspiration from the Vulgate version of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas” [“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”]. The Latin vanitas means “emptiness” or “futility” and was used to render the Hebrew term hebel, which primarily means “vapor” and refers to that which is fleeting and perishable (Ps. 62:9, 144:4). In this painting, Pieter Claesz, a German-born painter based in Haarlem, depicts human mortality with a skull and bone. The table is cluttered with other items suggesting transience and the futility of human pursuits. Along with an overturned chalice, there is a timepiece, a writer’s quill, and a music manuscript. The smoke is an especially poignant symbol of ephemerality. The impermanence of human existence underscores human dependence on a sovereign and eternal God.
The parable of the good Samaritan, here depicted by the Italian mannerist painter Jacopo Bassano, illustrates generosity and one person’s support for another, devoid of prejudice. In the context of Catholic Venice in the 16th century, Bassano’s work takes the church to task for failing in its obligations to care for the sick and needy.