José Bernardo de la Meana

St. Jude Thaddeus

Circa 1753-62
Cathedral of St. Savior, Oviedo, Spain

The relief bears the apparently contemporary inscription S. JUDA. However, it may be St. Bartholomew rather than St. Jude Thaddeus. Jude is not pictured treading a monster underfoot in other images. His legend does say he overcame some devils, but they manifested themselves as Ethiopians. On the other hand, the monster under the feet of the present figure is much like the ones we see underfoot in images of Bartholomew. The object that had now broken off from in the figure's left hand could possibly have been the cudgel that is one of Jude's attributes, but the set of the hand suggests that it may have been St. Bartholomew's flaying knife.

The narrative image below the statue is still more perplexing. A Jewish high priest, unmistakably identified by the headpiece and breastplate of Aaron, hands a soldier and his comrade a document that has just been written by a scribe or king (depending on how one interprets the thing on his head). Were it not for the high priest, one might posit that the writer is King Abgar and the soldier Ananias, the man who carried Abgar's letter to Jesus in Jerusalem in the Jude Thaddeus legend. But if the action represented is not in Jerusalem, what is the high priest doing there?

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Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.