19 Juin 2019
Since the publication of the Da Vinci Code, the idea that Mary Magdalene may have been the sexual and/or mystical companion of Jesus has become obvious to many people. On some websites, which present it as an “established fact”, the following medallion is shown with the following commentary: “Mary Magdalene kisses Jesus” (or an equivalent commentary).
Jesus and Mary: The Kiss
The reader in a hurry or already convinced will perhaps be satisfied, but more is needed to convince a more critical receiver. First of all: why none of these websites mention the origin of the document, its “source”? This one, especially if the document put forward is presented as a major piece or brandished as proof, must always be specified. In History, a document whose provenance is unknown immediately attracts suspicion. It can be a fake or a “modified” document. What about this one?
Foremost, several details draw our attention:
1) First of all, the woman is dressed in blue. It is one of the colors generally attributed to the mother of Jesus. The red is rather reserved for Mary Magdalene considered (wrongly) as a repentant ex-prostitute.
2) Moreover, it is the female character who kisses Jesus, not the other way around. However, in some ancient Writings regarded as “Gnostic”, it is always Jesus who kisses “Mary”, not the other way around. Jesus is always active: he gives. On the medallion he is passive: he receives.
3) Not only is he passive but his eyes are closed. In ancient and medieval (and even posterior) iconography, closed eyes mean death. This reading is strengthened by the fact that, with his right hand, the female figure seems to support the head of Jesus.
In fact, the document is not false, but it has been reworked before being put online to make him say what he did not say (which is the goal of manipulation): this is the reason why its origin is never specified.
1) It was first truncated so that only the heads of the two characters are visible. Thus, the overall vision is lost.
2) The rounded shape (medallion shaped) was also chosen to conceal some details: in particular the fact that the head of the female personage is encircled by a halo.
3) The picture was finally rotated by 45 degrees to the right.
4) The indication of the source is omitted and it was given a new title in order to completely distort its interpretation.
Here is the document correctly oriented:
In fact, the picture is only a small part of a fresco uncovered during the restoration of the chapel of Sant’Andrea di Montiglio Monferrato (Italy). The composition shows the entombment of Jesus after his Crucifixion. It is his mother, Mary bending forward, who kisses her dead son.
At the head and at the feet: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. In the background, leaning towards the body: several women, including Mary Magdalene dressed in red.
The image has been manipulated. What is strange, to say the least, is that it is precisely those who denounce an alleged Church conspiracy (to keep supposed secrets...) who resort to such methods. Of course, those who forward the truncated document and its fallacious comment are not the source of the deception. They are only the first victims. However, they have their part of responsibility: a document whose source is not mentioned and whose origin cannot be controlled must not be shared without any reflection...
Thierry Murcia, PhD, March 21, 2018
(completed and translated in June 2019)
Centre Paul-Albert Février (TDMAM-UMR 7297 / Aix-Marseille University - CNRS)
Variations on the same theme
Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308-1311), The Deposition from the Cross
Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308-1311), The Entombment of Christ
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Old City Jérusalem