Chagall White Crucifixion Pope Francis


NEW YORK (RNS) Pope Francis is a devoted fan of artist Marc Chagall, and his favorite is Chagall’s “White Crucifixion,” which depicts Jesus on the cross, wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl and encircled by scenes of endangered Jews. That tells us a lot about this pope, and the future of Christian-Jewish relations.

Pope Francis' favorite painting , Chagall's White Crucifixion, returns to The Art Institute of Chicago .  I learned all this through social media so I planned my visit to the museum.

Oil on canvas 154.6 x 140 cm (60 7/8 x 55 1/16 in.) Signed and dated, l.r.: "MArc ChAgAll/ 1938" Gift of Alfred S. Alschuler, 1946.925

Chagall engaged in a weekly study of Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, in Hebrew. His command of biblical idiom was fluent, as his recollection here of Psalm 22:1—though in Yiddish—shows (“Hastu mir verlatzen, mein Gott? Fer was?”). But the first line in the stanza, the allusion to Luke 9:23, reveals also a knowledge of the New Testament. Here, as in his paintings, the two testaments are drawn together in a personal expression of spiritual distress.

Painted in 1938, White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall shows the suffering of Jews and Jesus. Violent conflicts are depicted such as the setting on fire of synagogues. In the center of the picture Jesus is displayed, crucified and symbolized as being Jewish adorned in a prayer shawl. The original painting is currently being exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago.

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