Wax Souls

  These wax images are found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and show the potential destiny of the soul at death. They were created for private devotion so the Christian could meditate on the last things. The “memento mori” (“remembrance of death”), is not morbid. We made it morbid by detaching it from its…

The Earliest Known Depiction of Witches On Brooms, and What It Tells Us About Evil

This marginal illustration comes from Le champion des dames (A Defense of Women) by Martin Le France, 1451. Martin was secretary to both Antipope Felix V and Pope Nicholas V. His work is a 24,000-verse (!) poem extolling the virtues of women, but also condemning heresy and corruption. The witches are identified as Vaudois, or Waldensians, who were accused of practicing witchcraft…

Memento Mori Beads

This carved ivory and silver rosary is from Germany in the the early 16th century. Each bead has a head divided between face and skull, with certain beads showing a decaying face. It’s a reminder that life is fleeting. Two of the beads form the inscription, “Remember death / This is what you will be.” Metropolitan…

Christ the Pharmacist

There is a minor tradition in art of depicting Christ as the Divine Pharmacist, an Apothecary of the Soul, mixing and compounding the medicine for mankind. In this illumination from a 16th century manuscript, He is shown writing out the prescription to treat original sin. There’s no word on whether Adam and Eve had a co-pay….