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Sarcophagus


© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
This small sarcophagus of a child, said to be Saint Clair’s, is decorated with depictions based on the theme of the soul’s salvation. On the small left side, Adam and Eve commit the original sin.
In Paradise, acting under the injunction of the devil appearing as a snake, Eve picks an apple, the forbidden fruit, which she gives to Adam to eat.
On the opposite end, on the right, the prophet Daniel, thrown into the lions’ den by King Nebuchadnezzar, will be saved thanks to his faith in Christ and prayer, represented here by Daniel’s raised arms.
On the front façade, the sarcophagus displays a series of images related to the notion of the Salvation of Mankind. On the right, Abraham prepares to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, before the altar, in the name of his love for God. However, this action is stopped by the divine intervention of three angels.
These highly symbolic images are highly elaborated by the Church of Rome and largely diffused beginning in the fourth century. They are intended for the deceased himself and affirm his faith.

© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
The central image, borrowed from the New Testament, depicts Jesus’s public life surrounded by his disciples. Jesus multiplies the loaves of bread and feeds the multitude. 
On the extreme left, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, kneels before Jesus imploring that he resurrect her brother whose corpse rests in the tomb.
These images summarize the Christian faith.
Because of the original sin, God sent his son on Earth to save mankind.
The sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham portends that of Christ by His father. The multiplication of the loaves of bread foreshadows the sacrament of the Eucharist which reminds mankind of the death of Christ. Only faith in God can open the eyes to the meaning of life, and prayer will support the believer in his desire to be saved.

Small marble sarcophagus presumed to be Saint Clair’s, discovered in the former priory Saint-Orens of Auch (Gers).
Fourth century.
Inv. Ra 825.
Lu 554 fois

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