PICTURING THE PASSION: ‘The Disembowelment of Judas’ by Giacom/ Giovanni Canavesio (1491)

The Archdiocesan Heritage Museum, Mumbai brings to you the fifth article in the series titled ‘Picturing the Passion’

Judas Iscariot! It is the most hated name in history that instinctively recalls curse, criticism and condemnation.  People fear of being designated ‘a Judas’, the most heinous of all traitors. Dante, in his celebrated Divine Comedy, considers him the worst sinner and places him in the center of hell, in the mouth of Lucifer himself. An accursed villain in the Passion of Christ, Judas is regarded synonymous to the devil and to evil. Thanks to his well played antihero role, he is also one of the most recalled apostles, damned for his betrayal.

He betrayed Christ at two specific moments: the first was while devising the plan with the Pharisees over the agreement of the 30 pieces of silver and the second was during the execution of the said plan in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he hands his Master over to the murders, he steps closer to his own death, a self-murder.

The versions to this narrative are varied. While the Gospel of Matthew states, ‘When Judas, the traitor, realised that Jesus had been condemned, he was filled with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priest and the elders, saying ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’ They answered, ‘What does it matter to us? That is your concern.’ So throwing the money into the Temple, he went away and hanged himself.’

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