Cain and Abel

12th century
The Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily

Cain and Abel's story is in Genesis 4:1-16. The lettering on the left side of this panel says CAIM OFFRAT CO[n] ABEL SACRIFICIUM REPROBATUR, "Cain offers with Abel - The sacrifice is rejected," along with the labels abel and cain. Following an ancient interpretive tradition, God's approval of Abel's sacrifice is signified by the descent of fire upon it from Heaven above.

On the right side we see the same labels as Cain murders Abel with an axe. The inscriptions say CONSURREXIT CAIN ADVERSUS FRATREM SUUM ABEL ET INTERFECIT EUM ("Cain rises up against his brother Abel and kills him") and AIT DOMINUS AD CAIN UBI EST ABEL FRATER TUUS QUI RESPONDIT NESCIO ("The Lord says to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' He answers, 'I do not know.'")

The previous panels all showed God as a handsome adult with a face identical to Adam's. This time he has facial wrinkles and a short white beard.

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View other panels in the chapel's Genesis sequence.
Read more about Abel.

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