Agnus Dei
Francisco De Zurbaran
1635 – 1640
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The artist presents a simple still-life with extraordinary realism and symbolism. Against a dark background, resting on a table is a merino lamb. Still alive, it lies silent with bound feet – a posture indicating sacrifice. For the Hebrew Passover meal, God had commanded the sacrificing of a spotless lamb, whose blood marked the doors of the Israelite households. The blood saved them from the Angel of Death.
The image of the Passover Lamb effectively foreshadows the Passion of Christ – the Lamb of God whose blood and sacrifice set us free. Notice the purity of the lamb’s wool. Its spotlessness reflects Christ’s innocence. Now observe the Lamb’s feet. Though tied for slaughter, they show no indication of resistance or struggle. It depicts Christ’s willingness and incomprehensible love to set us free and take our place with abounding grace.

– Archdiocesan Heritage Museum

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