- The Miracle of the Holy Fire (painting)
title= The Miracle of the Holy Fire
William Holman Hunt
type=Oil on canvas
height_inch=| width_inch =
Fogg Art Museum
The Miracle of the Holy Fire (1892-9) is a painting by
William Holman Huntwhich depicts the Greek Orthodoxrite of the Holy Firein the Church of the Holy SepulchreJerusalem. Hunt believed the fire to be a pious fraudwhich brought Christianity into disrepute. He intended the painting to be a satire in the manner of William Hogarth. Hunt published an elaborate keyplate explaining the identity of the various characters depicted.
The miracle of the Holy Fire is an annual event in which the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox church in Jerusalem enters the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre with an unlit lamp and emerges with it lit. The ceremony begins at noon when the
Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalemor another Orthodox Archbishoprecites a specific prayer. The congregants will then chant "Lord, have mercy" (" Kyrie eleison" in Greek) until the Holy Fire "descends" on a lamp of oliveoil held by the patriarchwhile he is alone in the tomb chamber. The patriarch will then reveal himself from the tomb chamber and recite some prayers and light either 33 or 12 candles and distribute them to the congregants.
Hunt depicts the moment at which the kindled fire is released from the chamber and passed from candle to candle. Lighted candles can be seen emerging from the shrine in the background at the right. Hunt does not concentrate on the event itself, but rather on the social and ethnographic context in which it occurs.
Along with other Protestants and Catholics, Hunt had no doubt that the fire was not a miracle, so he concentrates on what he considered to be the fanatical and grotesque responses of the participants. He also believed that the interior of the church was the epitome of bad taste, writing that it was "crammed full of trumpery pictures of old Saints, and decorated throughout in that bad taste which Roman Catholics have to themselves in Europe but which here the modern Greeks share with them." [Bronkhurst, J., "William Holman Hunt, A Catalogue Raisonné", vol 1, p.278]
Hunt depicted the various competing religious groups along with the different races and ethnicities of the region. At the far right a woman who represents Protestant English attitudes hurries to remove her children from the scene as the crowd becomes increasingly excited. Their Greek Orthodox nursemaid in contrast, responds enthusiastically, reaching her candle into the crowd. [Bronkhurst, J., "William Holman Hunt, A Catalogue Raisonné", vol 1, p.276] A number of individuals adopt poses that are designed to mimic the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the background at the far left a figure mimicking Jesus dead is carried by others adopting exaggerated gestures of mourning. In the centre a man places himself against the shrine repeating the gesture of paintings depicting Jesus's resurrection.
As the crowd becomes unruly, the soldiers representing the occupying forces of the
Ottoman empireattempt to control the more riotous elements. At the centre of the ceremony is the Islamic ruler of the city. Bim Pasha, his second in command, leans on his sword, representing order amid disorder. [ [http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/whh/replete/miracle.html Landow, G.P, "Replete with Meaning: William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism"] ]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Miracle of the Holy Fire — The Miracle of the Holy Fire may refer to: Holy Fire a religious ceremony of the Greek Orthodox church in Jerusalem The Miracle of the Holy Fire (painting) a painting by William Holman Hunt depicting the ceremony. This disambiguation page lists… … Wikipedia
The Miracle of the Holy Fire — may refer to:Holy Fire a religious ceremony of the Greek Orthodox church in JerusalemThe Miracle of the Holy Fire (painting) a painting by William Holman Hunt depicting the ceremony … Wikipedia
Church of the Holy Sepulchre — This article is about the church building in Jerusalem. For other uses, see The Holy Sepulchre (disambiguation). The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old … Wikipedia
The Vatican — The Vatican † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Vatican This subject will be treated under the following heads: I. Introduction; II. Architectural History of the Vatican Palace; III. Description of the Palace; IV. Description of the… … Catholic encyclopedia
Holy (Bottom episode) — Infobox UK Television Episode Title =Holy Series name =Bottom Caption = Series no =Two Episode =005 Airdate =October 29th, 1992 Writer =Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall Producer =Ed Bye Director =Ed Bye Guests = Episode list = Prev =Parade Next… … Wikipedia
Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn — Painting of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy with numerous votive offerings (hearts) below it. Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros Vartų Dievo Motina, Polish: Matka Boska Ostrobramska, Belarusian: Маці Божая Вастрабрамская) is … Wikipedia
Jerusalem during the Crusader period — The Crusader period in the history of Jerusalem began with the conquest of the city by the Crusader army in 1099, during the First Crusade, as it is now known, Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom for the crusading Christians, these events … Wikipedia
Italian Renaissance painting — is the painting of the period from the early 15th to mid 16th centuries occurring within the area of present day Italy, but at that time divided into many political areas. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular… … Wikipedia
Timeline of the Roman Catholic Church — As one the oldest branches of Christianity, with Eastern Orthodoxy, [The Eastern Orthodox and some other churches are also apostolic in origin i.e., they also date their origins back to the founding of the Christian Church at the time of the… … Wikipedia
Netherlands, The — officially Kingdom of The Netherlands byname Holland Country, northwestern Europe. Area: 16,033 sq mi (41,526 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 16,142,000. Capital: Amsterdam; Seat of Government: The Hague. Most of the people are Dutch. Languages:… … Universalium