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Adnotationes in Evangelia. Antwerp, 1607

Copper engraving.

This Counter- Reformatory commentary on the Gospels was composed by Jerome Nadal (1507-1580). Nadal studied with St. Ignatius Loyala mid-sixteenth century. He is sometimes referred to as the "second founder of the Jesuits." This engraving was executed by Johannes Wierix (1553-1619) who worked at the Plantin Press in Antwerp.


This scene depicts Jesus and the twelve apostles seated around a table. A large cup is pictured directly in the center of the scene. Jesus is pictured at the head of the table holding a tray of hosts and extending a piece of bread in his hand to the mouth one of the apostles. In each of the Synoptic Gospels we read that Jesus took the bread and broke it and gave it to the apostles, but it is not mentioned whom was fed first. Is there a reason why the artist chose to depict Jesus feeding this particular apostle? In the Gospel According to Saint John when the apostles question who will betray Jesus, Jesus answers, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it” (John 13:26). Is the apostle receiving the bread in this illustration meant to be Judas? Taking a closer look, we can see another figure in the foreground of the illustration. On his knee is a small gremlin-like creature; and unlike any other figure he is clutching a purse of fabric in his hand. These clues lead us to see that this figure is representing Judas; the artist has marked him as an evil character holding the reward for his betrayal. It seems that in this illustration, the key motif is the Holy Communion, and the allusion to Christ’s betrayal is more subtle.


Artwork in the public domain