Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Peter Paul Rubens
1614 – 1616
National Gallery Art, Washington

The stone has just rolled off the mouth of the cave, and morning light streams in. We see a thankful Daniel with his eyes raised to heaven and hands clasped in prayer. His body is tense, but his faith is faithful. The painting recounts the famous episode of the Persian King condemning the devout Daniel to spend the night in a lion’s den for refusing to worship him. Daniel is surrounded by fierce lions, each in various stages of slumber and wakefulness. Some stare straight at us, others sleep while still others roar and growl restlessly. By painting the cave as if beyond the frame, the artist draws us right into the picture. Daniel’s miraculous survival symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ. Nothing is impossible for those who believe in God’s promise of protection and providence.

– Archdiocesan Heritage Museum

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