And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus
[Helped by God], which was laid
at his gate
full of sores,
San Martín de Mondoñedo (Lugo), Spain
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich
moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
"And it came to pass, that the beggar died and was carried
by the Angels
into Abraham's bosom;
the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth
Abraham afar off
and Lazarus in his bosom.
Lincoln - frieze before recent restoration
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water
and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Lincoln - frieze after recent restoration
But Abraham said, Son, O remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
thy good things
and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted
and thou are tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf
so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot;
neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.
Then he [the rich man, also known as Dives, another
name for Pluto or Hades, Lord of the Underworld]
said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house;
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him: They have had Moses, and the prophets
let them hear them.
And he [Dives] saith,
Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead,they will repent.
And he [Abraham] said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
Luke XVI, 19-31.
Lincoln Cathedral (England): part of the frieze on the West front, photographed in the 1940s.
On the right, Lazarus is borne up to Heaven, while Dives and his friends are poleaxed into the jaws of Hell by a devil.
The abbey church of Moissac (Tarn-et-Garonne) - South front, complete frieze in semi-relief:
Two dogs lick Lazarus' sores, while Dives dines and carouses on the right.
On the left sits Abraham on his heavenly throne, with Lazarus clasped to his bosom.
The figure on Abraham's right may be Moses pointing to the word of God.
A much more dramatic - almost El Greco - portrayal of the parable can be seen in the Museum of Romanesque Art in Barcelona.
A wall-painting from the celebrated church of San Clemente in Tahull (Lléida), it shows Lazarus in a strange perspective,
with a crutch, his feet licked by a kind of long-legged bulldog or mastiff.
It is worth noting that in some world-views (e.g. Celtic) the
dog is considered to be a Healer.
In others, the dog is a Psychopomp.
A capital in the nave of the famous church, dedicated to Mary
Magdalen, at Vézelay (Yonne) depicts the after-lives of Dives
On the main face, Dives is being carried on his bier, nicely wrapped in linen, while devils gather round to drag him to Hell.
On the left side, Lazarus' soul in infantile innocence is carried up to Abraham's bosom in a mandorla.
At Moissac, a winged devil removes his wealth...
...while an owl and a demon appear to fight over his soul
as it issues from his mouth,
his beautiful wife grieving by his bed.
Inside the little rural Romanesque church of Lignières (Loir-et-Cher)
is a post-Romanesque (probably late XIV century) fresco of the story.
Note the boar's head at Dives' feast.
Lazarus' soul, issuing from his mouth, is received by Abraham.
The dog's soul (to the eternal shame of the Abrahamic religions) is not.
The dying Dives in his four-poster bed (on the right) is approached by Hellish beasts
while Lazarus' soul (on the left) nestles in Abraham's bosom.
The text reads: Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus
that he may dip his finger in water to cool me.
photos by Joël Jalladeau
This page is dedicated to the memory of Oscar.
Ironically, there is (to this day) a Crusader Order of St Lazarus