The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Santafereño AnonymousColonial Museum
Besides being Jesus’ cousin, Saint John the Baptist is recognized as the last prophet and the first martyr of Christianity, because according to what it is said, he announced the arrival of the Messiah and died defending his faith. This image, composed by several scenes, narrates the events linked to his death.
From an early age, Saint John retired to the desert to live ascetically. However, the saint was aware of the most outstanding events of his society. Therefore, he learned that the ruler Herod Antipas (4 BCE-39 CE) had divorced his wife to marry Herodias, who was then married to Philip, Antipas’ half-brother. This fact aroused the criticism of the Baptist, who confronted the ruler and his new wife for their moral faults.
Saint John’s constant reproaches led him to prison. According to the story, not satisfied with this punishment, Herodias asked Herod to execute the saint. Failing, the woman schemed a plan with her daughter Salome: the young woman had to dance in front of the ruler, her stepfather, to win his favor.
The plot was successful: Herod, pleased by his stepdaughter’s performance, offered to reward her by fulfilling her wishes. Salome, persuaded by her mother, asked for the Baptist’s head. The beheading of the saint is seen foreground, there two executioners carry out the sentence.
In the background of the image, it can be seen how a servant presents before Herod, his wife and stepdaughter, the head of Saint John on a silver tray.
To close the sequence, it is shown the body of the Baptist transported by his disciples who, according to the evangelists Mark and Matthew, collected his remains for their burial.
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo
Manuel Amaya Quintero
Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares
Paula Ximena Guzmán López
Tanit Barragán Montilla
Valentina Bastidas Cano