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Bill Thayer

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All With One Accord

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Acts, ch. 2 (King James Version)

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The inscription is very much effaced and I've so far been unable to read it; if you'd like to try, see this closeup. On the other hand, the artist has rendered the scene faithfully: the apostles are sitting, and the tongues of fire are cloven. (If you are as curious as I was to check the latter, here is a red-enhanced, enlarged closeup.)

The last scene in the second register, that deals with the life of Christ, Pentecost shares the North wall of the Cappellone with the first, The Massacre of the Innocents. If at first that seems a very awkward "seam" along the meridian, it's possible to make sense of it: what a king failed to kill at the birth of a Child, God Himself crowned with success at the birth of the Church — and I'm pretty sure that the master artist of the Cappellone had this firmly in mind, contrasting the disorder and anguish of Herod's slaughter with the total order and peace of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life:

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Now only five of the apostles wrote books that would form part of the canon: Peter, James, John, Matthew, and Jude. Here Peter holds only the key of government, and no book; six others hold books. The Augustinians are a scholarly community; that accounts for the two extra books, I think.

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The leaders of the new church: Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the keys of Heaven; to his right, John the beloved disciple; to his left, James the brother of Jesus, who ran the local church of Jerusalem.

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Page updated: 16 Aug 03