Church of St. Rupert, Vienna
The upper panel is an early example of the late-medieval emphasis on pathos in Crucifixion images. The older style emphasized the victory of the divine Christ; this image shows the human Jesus. His head fallen upon his chest, his eyes are closed, his arms sag under the weight of his body and his pelvis angles to the right, and he is dressed only in a skimpy loincloth. St. John holds his hand to his cheek in a gesture of grief.
The center panel also exemplifies the transition into late-medieval emphasis on Jesus' humanity. The Virgin's throne and her body face frontally, but she tilts her head toward the child and hugs him closely. He in turn presses his face against hers as his left hand pats her chin and his right touches her breast. These gestures follow those of the Byzantine "Parthenos Eleousa ("Merciful Virgin), which was especially popular in the East in the 12th century.1
The bottom panel is of recent construction. The Latin HOC SACELLUM ST. RUPERTO SANCTI GUNALDUS ET GISAIRICUS AVARORUM CONVERSIONI DESTINATI APOSTOLI EREXERUNT ANNO DCCXL means "Saints Guniald and Gislar, apostles sent to convert the Avars, built this chapel to St. Rupert in the year 740." The Acta Sanctorum (September vol. 6, 708-713) records two 17th-century texts that call Guniald and Gislar "apostles to the Avars," but it cites nothing about any such mission. All the other references that it quotes simply say the two men were priests who worked with St. Rupert in the conversion of the Bavarians. They are usually referred to as "blesseds" rather than "saints."
Guniald and Gislar are said to have come to Bavaria from Scotland or Ireland. Their feast day is September 24, the same as Rupert's. For a modern image of them with St. Rupert, see this page.
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Read more about the Crucifixion and the Parthenos Eleousa.
Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.