The Holy Christ of Lepanto is no longer black | Entertainment | The USA Print

The Santo Cristo de Lepanto of the Barcelona Cathedral, before the restoration of 2023

The most revered image of the Barcelona cathedral, the Santo Cristo de Lepanto, is no longer black. The conservation and restoration process to which it has been subjected has revealed a figure of rich colors, “that highlight the passion of Jesus”, declared the dean of the cathedral, Santiago Bueno.

At the moment when it was discovered that the image could recover its last polychromy, from the end of the 19th century when it still had fair skin, the chapter decided to carry out this process, which has been carried out relatively easily: with hot distilled water and an eraser in cases where there was only dirt.

The Santo Cristo de Lepanto of the Barcelona Cathedral, before the restoration of 2023

Mané Espinosa / File

This afternoon the first religious act will be held in which parishioners will be able to contemplate the result of this restoration, coinciding with the feast of the Solemnity of the Holy Cross, head of the cathedral.

According to legend, the Holy Christ of Lepanto was present in that battle of 1571, in which the Spanish army faced the Ottoman Empire, presiding over the galley of Don Juan de Austria, and hence its name.

The legend also attributes its unique tilted position to two possible events that occurred in that battle. One indicates that the image was tilted to avoid a cannon shot, and the other points to Christ’s gesture of covering a hole in the hull of the galley with his body.

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The bearers of the brotherhood of Santo Cristo de Lepanto have already been able to contemplate the result of the restoration. After the initial surprise, “they have welcomed with joy” the new image.

new dating

Research places the figure between the 12th and 15th centuries, and not in the 16th as was previously believed.

The restoration has also modified the date of this image, made of a single piece of ash wood with the arms added, and the cross made of pine wood. The belief that it was from the 16th century has been corrected by researchers, who will shed light on new data at a conference to be held at the end of the year.

The new dating is between the 12th and 15th centuries, almost certainly around the 13th century, due to the superimposed position of the feet nailed to the cross, as opposed to inexpressive hands. Therefore, a Gothic and not a Renaissance image.

Before and after the Christ of Lepanto

Before and after the Christ of Lepanto

Kim Manresa | Miquel Gonzalez/Shooting

A black Madonna and a white Christ

Unlike the image of the Virgin of Montserrat, which in its restorations has never been ‘cleaned’, the chapter of the Barcelona Cathedral has decided not to keep its black image, since in the case of La Moreneta it is a much more old, from the 16th century, while the Christ of Lepanto ‘only’ was black for just over a century.

The teams from the restorer of Barcelona Cathedral, Ana Ordóñez; the conservator-restorer of the Béns Mobles de Catalunya Restoration Center, Esther Gual; and the cathedral’s intangible heritage technician, Nil Rider.

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