Pr. Scott Bryte San Damiano Crucifix
Giclee Print of Oil on panel 24"x30” Scott Bryte, 2016-17a.D.
The name “San Damiano Cross” refers to a specific 12th century cross by an unknown artist, which now hangs in the Church of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy. That cross is said to have inspired St. Francis of Assisi (c.1181-1226 a.D.) to begin a program of spiritual renewal and church reform which resulted, among other things, in the founding of the various Franciscan religious orders. More generally, the term is used to refer to any icon cross of similar shape.
Like the original San Damiano Cross, this particular one is designed as an aid in devotion and worship. Traditional icons straddle the line between being a two dimensional (flat) image and an image that draws the viewer into its depth. This icon takes that a step further, making it appear that the red background, the gold border, the four blue rectangles and the image of Jesus are on different levels.
The letters INRI at the top are the first letters of the Latin phrase “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum” (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), the inscription that was hung on the cross of Christ during his crucifixion (John 19:19).
The four blue panels bear the traditional symbols of the four evangelists, derived from Biblical visions in the books of Ezekiel (1:10-11) and Revelation (4:6-8). The symbols represent (clockwise from top) St. Mark, St. John, St. Luke, and St. Matthew.
The image of Jesus blends elements of a crucifix, which emphasizes the atoning death of Jesus, with a Christus Rex (Christ the King) which depicts the risen and glorified Christ. Here, Jesus is alive and looks directly at the viewer. The wounds of the crucifixion are in evidence, but there are no longer any nails fixing Jesus to the Cross. The cloth around his waist bears bloodstains, but Jesus himself is clean and whole. Finally, the crown of thorns meant to torture and humiliate Jesus during his crucifixion, has become the royal crown of Christ the King.