The Mass of Saint Gregory

Saint Gregory Mass (Siglo XVII) by Baltasar Vargas de Figueroa (attributed)Santa Clara Museum

This painting is in a large altarpiece on the western wall of the church of Saint Claire since the middle of the seventeenth century. It is one of the first pieces that entered the old temple. In it we can find multiple symbolisms related to fundamental Catholic dogmas.

The legend that originated the story that is told in this painting has several versions. In general, it is said that one Good Friday, while officiating the mass in the Roman Church of the Holy Cross, Saint Gregory and the faithful saw an apparition of Jesus Christ accompanied by the instruments of his Passion.

The miracle occurred after one of the attendees, whose identity changes according to the version of the story, expressed that he or she did not believe that Christ was present in the consecrated host.

In the inferior area of the painting Saint Gregory is seen kneeling and contemplating the prodigy of Jesus Christ’s apparition. He is accompanied by cardinals, bishops, and deacons.

In the upper section, some angels save the souls of those who are condemned to Purgatory.

This detail refers to Saint Gregory, who was considered the patron saint of the deceased, since for thirty days he offered masses to save the soul of a deceased monk who confessed to have taken, without authorization, three gold coins and that, for 4 los sacramentos y fue sepultado fuera de los terrenos sagrados. this fact, did not receive the sacraments and was buried outside the sacred grounds.

In an overview of the painting, we see that it is divided into three planes: Earth, Purgatory and Heaven. These sections correspond to the constituent parts of the Church according to Catholic doctrine.

At the bottom we see the priests and faithful who make up the Militant Church, that is, those who in life defend the faith and pray for those who are purging their faults.

In the middle of the image, the souls surrounded by flames represent the Penitent Church, made up of those who are serving their sentence for having been sinners in life. These souls, besides, intercede for mortals.

In the upper part, we see the Triumphant Church, represented by God, the Virgin Mary and angelic beings.

The figure of Christ is the bridge between the three sections.

Credits: Story

Museum Director

María Constanza Toquica Clavijo
Manuel Amaya Quintero
Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares 
Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López
Tanit Barragán Montilla
Andrea Valentina Bastidas Cano

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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