The Holy Innocents, 1303–1310
Capella degli Scrovegni, Padua, Italy
Today's work of art comes from Italy, the foreign country in which I've spent the most time -- seven days. Two in Florence, three in Rome, and three in Venice. I liked Rome best of the three, though I don't recall that we did much of anything in Florence and my impression of Venice was no doubt negatively influenced by the horrible stench of the canals. I'd like to go back to Florence, at least, because I didn't get the chance to see the Uffizi Gallery. I'm not sure how I missed it... seems like the kind of place the tour company would have included on the itinerary. Maybe that was the afternoon I took a nap ad the rest of the group went off without me. If so, that was the same afternoon I stumbled across that English-language used bookstore where I found a copy of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish in advance of its release in the U.S. That may have been worth missing the Uffizi.
This fresco depicts the Massacre of the Innocents. You remember the story:
Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
"A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead."
Now, most scholars agree that this didn't actually happen. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents on this date every year.