Maundy Thursday: the Betrayal


Maundy Thursday: for Christianity, this day marks the beginning of the so-called Paschal Triduum, the period of three days leading to Easter and thus recalling the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Maundy Thursday is, most famously, dedicated to the Last Supper and Judas' betrayal of Christ. The illumination above depicts the latter: Jesus, surrounded by soldiers, receives a kiss from Judas - the signal the Apostle had agreed with the chief priests in order to identify Jesus. On the left, St. Peter assaults one of the servants of the High Priest, cutting his ear and being reprimanded by Jesus.

This lavish illumination comes from an English Book of Hours known as the "Hours of Elizabeth the Queen". Despite her not being that Queen Elizabeth, in fact, the book once belonged to Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), daughter of Edward IV and queen consort of England under the reign of Henry VII. The book was later passed from generation to generation of the English nobility.

"Betrayal of Christ", illumination from "The Hours of Elizabeth the Queen", ms. Additional 50001, f. 17r, between 1420 and 1430, British Library, London.

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