© Hildesheim, St Godehard |
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
The story of Christ’s appearance at Emmaus is told in three scenes
on the following pages (Luke 24:13-31). The full page illustrations are
painted in delicate colour washes, unlike the intense colours of the preceding
Christ cycle. The commentary, inserted after the illustration, is squeezed
haphazardly into the space available, with no rulings for the lines. It
is written in an alternating sequence of green, red, blue inks, with capitals
in the same colour as the text.
Christ is dressed like a pilgrim (described as peregrinus in the Vulgate
of Luke 24:18). He wears the pilgrim’s cap, shaggy cloak, and carries
the bag and staff. The older of the two disciples touches him and points
to the sun, a gesture emphasised by Christ’s staff. The text is
abbreviated from Luke 24: 13-31, but the words ‘aspice solem/ look
at the sun’, so essential to the illustration, are not in the gospel.
Instead, references to the sun are found in the Peregrinus liturgical
plays. The abbreviation of Luke’s text is also found in the plays
The location of these scenes, separated from the Christ cycle by the story
of Alexis, was considered haphazard by Goldschmidt, simply a space filler
to complete the quire (1895, 37). Pächt and Holdsworth found more
significant reasons for their existence and location (AP, 73—79;
Holdsworth, 1978, 192). The Emmaus scenes are a gloss on the Life of Alexis:
Christ and Alexis were both poor pilgrims, unrecognised until they left
the world. But more personally, both stories were mirrors for Christina.
On three occasions she was visited by ‘a certain pilgrim’
whom she was unable to recognise. The first time he was received hospitably
but did not linger; the second time he was entertained to a meal by Christina
and her sister who served him like Mary and Martha; and the final time
he joined in a service with Christina and her nuns, but disappeared afterwards
even though all doors were locked. (Talbot, 1998, 182-8).
The illustrations of Alexis and Emmaus, linked by their delicate wash
technique, are specifically episodes which relate Christina’s life
to the holy exemplars.