Pope Francis’ Favorite Painting-The White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall A Post Modern Meditation

This beautiful Chagall is said to be Pope Francis’ favorite painting. One can easily see what he sees in it: the Jewish identity of the suffering Jesus, the suffering of the Jewish people during Hitler’s rise to power as it was painted in 1938 after KristalKnacht, and the suffering of many oppressed peoples crucified on the cross with Jesus. Today we can see the Syrians fleeing persecution-both the Christians and Muslims who are not the same as their terrorist persecutors ,those of all other religions and all people of difference from fundamentalist norms and rules. I can see refugees fleeing in lifeboats and the image of the 5 year old Syrian boy washed ashore, as well as those of many other countries, including the Central Americans coming to the USA through Mexico with “Coyotes”-those who lead them to alleged freedom(if they survive) for huge amounts of money. I can see all who still fight discrimination and hate crimes, including the Jewish people, and Muslims and the LGBTQ community.  I can also see those fleeing, shot and killed by random gang and drug-fueled gunfire in our Good Shepherd Community in Fort Myers where there have been over ten shootings in one month, and those workers without a job in the age of the technological dominance . It is indeed a meditation for our time.

I thank our Western Region RCWP Priest Rev.Dr. Kathleen Kunster for sending this to us. Please join me in this meditation with your own images.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

The 1938 painting White Crucifixion represents a critical turning point for the artist Marc Chagall: it was the first of an important series of compositions that feature the image of Christ as a Jewish martyr and dramatically call attention to the persecution and suffering of European Jews in the 1930s.

In White Crucifixion, his first and largest work on the subject, Chagall stressed the Jewish identity of Jesus in several ways: he replaced his traditional loincloth with a prayer shawl, his crown of thorns with a headcloth, and the mourning angels that customarily surround him with three biblical patriarchs and a matriarch, clad in traditional Jewish garments. At either side of the cross, Chagall illustrated the devastation of pogroms: On the left, a village is pillaged and burned, forcing refugees to flee by boat and the three bearded figures below them—one of whom clutches the Torah— to escape on foot. On the right, a synagogue and its Torah ark go up in flames, while below a mother comforts her child. By linking the martyred Jesus with the persecuted Jews and the Crucifixion with contemporary events, Chagall’s painting passionately identifies the Nazis with Christ’s tormentors and warns of the moral implications of their actions.

— Entry, The Essential Guide, 2013, p.277.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

C2015 Artists Rights Society(ARS) New York/ADAGP,Paris

For further thoughts one may also see: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/04/the-christ-of-marc-chagall

Explanations of the Jewish and Christian Symbols in Chagall’s “Work by David Lyle Jeffrey, April 2014

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