The commentary of the cover

Through him, with him, and in him by Pierre-Marie Dumont

This work by Francesc Comes was painted in 1395 on the island of Mallorca, Spain. Though catalogued as Salvator Mundi, it is ­instead a Christ in Majesty. Representations of the Salvator Mundi, Christ holding an orb in his left hand rather than the Book of Life, did not appear until a century later in the Renaissance in paintings of small dimensions destined for strictly private devotions, while worship of the Christ in Majesty was public and liturgical.

The image known as Christ in Majesty first appeared in the 11th century. It became prominent in the Romanesque and then Gothic periods, figuring in cathedral tympanums as well as manuscript illuminations. Illustrating the eschatological vision of Christ at his second coming, it married the Byzantine tradition of the Pantocrator with an ancient iconographic tradition of imperial Rome which represented the emperor, full-length and standing, his raised right hand signifying his governance over the world.

Here then, Jesus Christ appears as our Lord, summing up within himself the ultimate fulfilment of the Father’s benevolent plan for creation. His raised right hand signifies that he is the Master, the Teacher of all truth. His raised index and middle fingers symbolize his human and divine natures arising from the heart of the Trinity, represented by the other three fingers. In his left hand, he displays the Book of Life of the Lamb which reveals Jesus as the fulfilment of the Word of God. On the left-hand page can be read: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6), the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last (Rv 22:13), eternal peace, King of kings and Lord [of lords] (cf. Rv 19:16). On the right-hand page: I am who am (Ex 3:14), my way is not with that of the ungodly but my will is in the Lord’s law (cf. Ps 1:1-2). The inscription on the halo reads: Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews S[avior].

We were created in him and for him. We are saved through him. With him and in him, we will be sanctified and glorified for ever.

Yes, Father, may your will be done. Amen.

Pierre-Marie Dumont

Salvator Mundi (detail, 1395), Francesc Comes (active 1390–1415), Church of Santa Eulalia, Palma de Mallorca, Spain. © akg-images / Album / Oronoz.