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Healing of the Blind

eyes jesus jesus’ shown

The Gospels recount several episodes of Jesus’ miraculous healings of blind people. The subject is one of the most frequently represented *miracle scenes in early Christian art and can be found in numerous examples (especially sarcophagi) from the third and fourth centuries. The subject continued to be represented up through the thirteenth century in various formats. Generally, Jesus is shown actually touching the eyes of a blind person; this follows the account in *Matthew of Jesus’ healing two blind men by touching their eyes. Other blind men were cured by Jesus’ voice; in these cases the illustrations show Jesus speaking and gesturing to a seated man (or two), often in the presence of several witnesses. An architectural structure may be indicated, following Luke’s account, where the healing took place outside the city of Jericho. *John (9:1-12) tells of Jesus healing a man who had been born blind by smearing the man’s eyes with clay and spittle and directing him to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. The man’s sight was restored. This image, frequent from the sixth century, is recognizable by the additional details and often sequential narrative format: Jesus is shown smearing the man’s eyes; the man is shown again washing his eyes in a basin or fountain. Additional witnessing figures may be included. Although images of the healing of the blind are less frequent in later medieval art, the symbolism of the subject doubtless explains its early popularity. Jesus’ opening of eyes, letting light into darkness, symbolizes his role as redeemer, “light of the world,” and the fulfillment of *Isaiah’s prophecy (35:5): “… the eyes of the blind shall be opened.”
Healing of the Demoniac [next] [back] Head, Edith

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