The Harrowing of Hell

Milan, 1018-26
Gold, enamels, gemstones
Museum of the Cathedral, Milan

Appropriately, this panel of the book cover is just below the central crucifix. Here Christ has taken his cross to the underworld to defeat Satan, who lies prostrate in the lower right. In The Gospel of Nicodemus Christ takes Adam by the hand and has the Archangel Michael lead him and the other faithful "into the glory and beauty of paradise." Michael is pictured in the upper left holding Satan down with a spear or staff, a detail also included in the York Mystery Cycle's "Harrowing" play.1

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











































1 Gospel of Nicodemus, IX[XXV] (not in Schneemelcher). York Mystery Plays, Play 37 (The Harrowing), 342-43, lines 339-42 and 385-401.