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The Death of the Just Man

Anonymous1000

Museo Nacional de Arte

Museo Nacional de Arte

One of the great concerns of every good Christian from the Middle Ages on was the salvation of his soul, which might be lost while he was in his death throes, the time when the devil and his emissaries sorely tempted dying persons. Based on this idea, the Church formulated the concept of the good death, which is to say of a pattern of conduct aimed at withstanding the temptations of Satan so as to save ones soul. To this end, it was necessary to prepare the faithful, strengthening their faith and warning them about the temptations that the devil would put in their way, and catechisms and manuals were written, and religious orders such as that of Saint Camillus set up, devoted to helping the dying. This work depicts a dying man whose face expresses his intense pain, lying on his bed. A priest next to him, who is helping him to make a good end, listens to his last confession so that his purified soul may be saved, advising him as to how to withstand the temptations proffered to him by the demons surrounding his bed, such as denying God because of the suffering he is undergoing or clinging to his earthly belongings or loves, among other things. In the foreground, three priests, who, together with the vision of Christ at the foot of the bed, put the demons to flight by strengthening the dying man's soul, offer up prayers for the salvation of the latter as part of the ritual of the good death. An angel stands guard at the head of the dying man's bed, ready to receive his soul and take it to heaven, out of the demons' reach, so long as he has overcome all temptations, which seems to be the case here, since an angel is descending in order to crown the dead man with a wreath of roses. This piece entered the MUNAL as part of its founding endowment in 1982.

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Details

  • Title: The Death of the Just Man
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: 1000
  • Provenance: Constituve Collection
  • Physical Dimensions: w470 x h630 mm (complete)
  • Original Spanish object note: Una de las grandes preocupaciones de todo buen cristiano desde la Edad Media era la salvación de su alma, que podía perderse aun si se había llevado una vida ejemplar durante la muerte y la agonía, cuando el demonio y sus emisarios tentaban insistentemente al moribundo. A partir de esa idea la Iglesia creó el concepto del bien morir; o sea, una conducta que salvará la propia alma al resistir las tentaciones de Satanás. Para ello era menester preparar a los fieles fortaleciendo su fe y advirtiéndoles sobre las tentaciones con las que el demonio los atraería. De tal manera, se escribieron catecismos y manuales y se crearon órdenes religiosas, como la de San Camilo, dedicadas a ayudar a los agonizantes. En esta obra aparece un moribundo tendido en su cama, cuyo rostro refleja sus agudos dolores. Junto a él, un sacerdote lo auxilia para bien morir: escucha su última confesión para purificar su alma, lo que le permitirá salvarse, y le da consejos para soportar las tentaciones que los demonios que rodean su cama le ponen, como: renegar de Dios por el sufrimiento que padece, o apegarse a sus bienes o amores terrenales, entre otras. En el primer plano, tres sacerdotes ofrecen sus oraciones por la salvación del desahuciado como parte del rito de la buena muerte, que junto con la visión de Cristo a los pies de la cama hacen huir a los demonios pues fortalecen el alma del enfermo. En la cabecera del moribundo, un ángel permanece en guardia presto a recibir su alma y llevarla al cielo a salvo de los demonios, siempre y cuando haya superado todas las tentaciones; lo que en este caso parece ser así, ya que un angelillo desciende con una corona de rosas para premiarlo. Esta obra ingresó al MUNAL como acervo constitutivo en 1982.
  • Original title: La muerte del justo
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Museo Nacional de Arte, INBA, http://www.munal.com.mx/rights.html
  • Medium: Oil on copper

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