Negative images of Judaism in Christian Art ó Ecclesia and Synagoga
Ecclesia and Synagoga at the double-portal of the south entrance to the Strasbourg cathedral (around 1230)

Here both, the Church and the Synagogue, are symbolized as related to each other in the sense of the concordia veteris et novi testamenti, the unity of the Old and New Testaments. Both figures are of noble character. However, the Church is depicted as triumphant with crown and imperial robe on her shoulders, with staff and chalice in her hands, symbolizing her divine authority. She looks ahead assured of her mission in the world. The Synagogue is symbolized as defeated, her staff broken more than once, the Torah is slipping from her hands, a veil is covering her eyes and her head is bowed.



Marburg Bildarchiv


Wood carving at the choir benches of the Erfurt cathedral, Thuringia, Germany (about 1400-1410)

Ecclesia on a horse is attacking the Synagogue with a lance. Her shield carries the Christian symbol of a fish. The Synagogue is symbolized as riding a pig. Her eyes are closed and with her left hand she holds on to a branch. One of many depictions of the "Judensau" in the art work of European churches.

Marburg Bildarchiv

Church window of St. John's Church in Werben/ Elbe River, Germany (around 1414-1467)

In the left section of the window the Church is riding a tetramorph (a creature with the heads of eagle, human, lion and bull, symbolizing the four Gospels). She holds the flag of the cross and the chalice in her hands. The divine hand from heaven places a crown on her head.

In the right section the Synagogue is depicted as riding a donkey which is about to break down. In her right hand she holds the head of a he-goat. Her crown is falling. She is blindfolded. The staff of her flag is broken. But worst of all, the divine hand from heaven pierces her head and body with the sword of judgment.

Berlin, Aufbau Verlag; Martin Dettloff

See also Heinz Schreckenberg: The Jews in Christian Art: An Illustrated History
Franz B–hmisch: Synagoga et Ecclesia, Exegese einer Beziehung in Wort und Bild

Positive images of Judaism in Christian Art
Das christlich-j¸dische Verh”ltnis im Spiegel der K¸nste - The Christian-Jewish Relationship mirrored in art