Cardinal Vincent Nichols offers his reflections on this painting by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano titled 'The Incredulity of Saint Thomas'.
During Lent we walk a path of reflection and preparation for 40 days before celebrating the Risen Christ at Easter.
The miracle of the Resurrection was too much for St Thomas who needed to put his finger into the pierced side of Jesus before he would truly believe.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols offers his reflections on this very theme in front of a huge painting by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano called ‘The Incredulity of Saint Thomas’. It was commissioned in 1497 for the altar in the Church of San Francesco in northern Venice.
It is installed in the National Gallery in London – a place where the Cardinal filmed three reflections for our scripture initiative ‘The God Who Speaks’ – a year-long celebration of the Bible to deepen our understanding of God’s Word.
The painting itself is framed in a further arch, revealing an indented or coffered ceiling in a room where two more arches are stencilled into the back wall, to reveal a distant Italian landscape with trees and a castle.
This pictorial scene itself speaks of a further journey that the spiritual traveller is required to make on their journey of faith. As we stand in front of Cima’s huge masterpiece, we are therefore, carried through at least seven arches, guiding, directing and revealing the extraordinary depth of the painting.
This emphasis on scale and depth are part of the point of our faith in Christ whose death transcended every dimension of this world. So that while this encounter between Jesus, his disciples and specifically Thomas, occurs after the resurrection, right at the end of our Easter journey, to travel spiritually and physically to this very moment requires all the drama and power that the greatest journey from doubt to faith can ever express.
Since it is the drama and journey of seeing Christ after his death, and of believing in his resurrection. As Christians, we all enter into this unique mystery.
Useful Readers’ Notes can be downloaded here to accompany the Cardinal’s film and encourage further engagement.
Visit the official website for the National Gallery, London.