The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

El Justo Juez

Does anyone have any knowledge of the history of this particular image of the crucifixion, known in Spanish as the "Justo Juez" or the Just Judge? I grew up seeing it, but I don't really know where it came from or the symbolism behind it. Any info would be appreciated, even tangential, anecdotal stories. I am especially relying on my readers who have some knowledge of Spanish/Filipino Catholicism.


At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the Melchites have a tradition that Christ rules and judges from the Cross. On the Byzantine cross that is the significance of the bars at Our Lord's feet. Perhops it was borrowed from the Eastern Catholics or Orthodox

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Archistrategos said...

It's possible that it could be Byzantine in origin. I was surprised when I found out that the Volto Santo was heavily influenced by Byzantine iconography.

I think I remember a similar image from one of my grandparents' prayer books. I am more familiar with the Siete Potencias Africanas version (where the Justo Juez is surrounded by seven saints), though, but then that is already too voodoo to be Catholic. I am almost certain that the rooster symbolizes His threefold betrayal on Peter's part; I also recall some versions of this image which show the sun and moon weeping on either side of the Cross. The pose also seems reminiscent of the Cristo Moribundo.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

without falling into a Protestant polemic---some of the candles in Hispanic stores do have especially the Afro Caribbean some voodoo and pagan/occultic roots both in philosophy and practice
while I agree with Arturo on the theology following the practice and the practice not always flowing from the philosophical premise--the practice in practical terms is used in not complete orthopraxy but many times with foretelling the future or asking for things they should not have in a Catholic paradigm
In Mexico there are certainly syncretic beliefs and practices with the indigenous beliefs and practices pre-Christianity to this day

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only ever seen that exact image as the centerpiece of the "Seven African Powers", which is Santeria.

As for the origin of the portrayal of the crucified Christ with all the instruments of his Passion, it wouldn't have originated before the late Middle Ages; most pious passion iconography in the West has its roots in Franciscan mysticism, and was first given artistic expression in the 14th-16th centuries. The Man of Sorrows, the Arma Christi, the Fountain of Life, the Mystical Winepress, the Seven Dolors; the Pietá, the Holy Sepulcher and the Stations of the Cross all originate about this time.

-Daniel Mitsui

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

AG has just sent me this information on the image, which is part of an essay on the "Siete Potencias Africanas":

"Most prominent is the crucified Jesus surrounded by a group of objects associated with his passion and death. This tableau called the Arma Christi, Arms of Christ or Instruments of the Passion, are a group of objects associated with Christ's suffering, death and burial. The Arma Christi is commonly found on paintings depicting the Mass of Saint Gregory. As commonly found on the candles the image includes the cock that reminded Peter that he had denied Jesus, a column and scourge, the cross, the hammer and nails along with the pliers used to remove the nails, the sponge used to offer Jesus vinegar to quench His thirst and the lance that pierced His side. This image focuses attention on one of the most important events in Christian mythology and places the candle squarely within a Christian milieu."

You can read the whole essay here if you are in to that kind of stuff.

"El Justo Juez", however, can stand by itself, as I have shown in this candle. I only ask because I have recently obtained a holy card of this image and was wondering where it came from.

Here is a prayer that was written in the 19th century for "el Justo Juez". I reproduce it here in Spanish since I have no time to translate it:

"Santisimo Justo Juez, hijo de Santa Maria, que mi cuerpo no se asombre ni mi sangre sea vertida, donde quiera que vaya y venga, las manos del Senor delante las tenga, las de mi Senor San Andres, antes y despues, las de mi Senor San Blas, delante y detras, las de la Senora Virgen Maria, que vayan y vengan, mis enemigos salgan con ojos y no me vean, con armas y no me ofendan, con Justicia y no me prendan, con el pano que Nuestro Senor Jesucristo fue envuelto sea mi cuerpo, que no sea herido ni preso, ni a la verguenza de la carcel puesto. Si en este dia hubiese alguna sentencia en contra mia, que se revoque por la bendicion del Padre, del Hijo y Espiritu Santo. AMEN. La companie de Dios sea conmigo y el Manto de Santa Maria, su madre, me cobije y de malos peligros me defienda. Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus Tecum, me libre de todo espiritu maligno bautizado y por bautizar. Cristo vence, Cristo reina, Cristo de todos los malos peligros me defienda...El Senor y Justo individual hijo de Santa Maria Virgen, Aquel que nacio en aquel solemne dia, que no pueda ser muerto ni me quieran mal."


At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you and AG into Santeria?
That would not be totally unexpected by your two backgrounds.

I think Daniel Mitsui makes too categorical of a statement that it the iconography could not predate the 14th century.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger AG said...

Good Morning Jesus!!!

This image (and a short, badly translated English prayer) was on a holy card in a Catholic bookstore, so I'm not sure what is influencing what.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't learn your syncretic voodun santeria at the SSPX seminary.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Actually, I learned there how to make a potion using some of Archbishop Lefebvre's hair that should have made Cardinal Kasper's teeth fall out.

When I tried it, it didn't work.

I also failed drum. I guess I will have to find another way to invoke the orishas.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger M.J. said...

One also sees instruments of the passion surrounding Nuestra Señora de Soledad.

The Byzantine Christians do in fact have a highly devloped theology on the cross surrounded by the instruments of the passion. I was told that the Raskolniks, or the Russian Orthodox Old Believers, have an especial devotion to this.

At 5:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Montreal and saw this candle for sale at a "Dollar" store in a neighborhood that's full of immigrants, ( nearby are Creole, Greek, Quebecois restaurants including a pupusaria).
I've seen other devotional candles in other Dollar stores.

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