Saint Paul’s, the Antwerp Dominican church, a revelation
The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament
and of the Sweet Name of Jesus
The Holy Cross Altar
The altarpiece “The Lamentation”
The canvas (probably 1654) has been ascribed to Gaspar De Crayer, but Huybrecht Dirix is also being mentioned. Jesus’ three beloved ones – his mother Mary, the beloved disciple John and Mary Magdalen – lament over his dead body. The symbolism of their clothing here shows the trio of the primary colours: red, blue and yellow. One of the angels in tears, on the right, points at the sharp bloody point of the lance Jesus’ heart was pierced with. Another one, in front of him, is holding the crown of thorns. The trilingual cross inscription is completely in the foreground on the left.
Two divine virtues flank the wooden trunk (19th century) painted ‘gold’. The first one, on the left, is (Christian) Faith, with Jesus’ cross and a chalice with above it the consecrated host, the Eucharist. Next is Hope, with an anchor, because in every storm sailors hope they will be able to come to anchor again safe and sound. Their presence and their order are due to a quotation from Saint Paul: “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13). As it is the “greatest” of the three Love has been given the place of honour in the centre. It is represented by the chalice and the hosts that decorate the little door, to remind us of the fact that the (real) hosts are being kept here, in other words the Holy Sacrament, the sign of Jesus’ loving willingness to sacrifice himself, which is relived again and again in the broken bread in mass. ‘Divine’ virtues: what would man be without them?
Also on a gilded wooden 18th century exhibition throne the Holy Sacrament is shown surrounded by the three Divine Virtues. Love, in the middle in front, this time shows a burning heart.