Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Helsingor, St. Mary's Cloister Church, Frescoes, Burials, Carmelite Cloister;

St. Mary's
Carmelite Cloister Church

A Sistine of the North -- Medieval Frescoes

Ceiling frescoes:  Here, this fresco shows the Last Supper.  The Last Supper includes a boar's head on the platter.

Boar's head at the Last Supper, St. Mary's Cloister Church, Helsingor DK. Also other scenes:  flight into Egypt, Herod the baby-killer (no outside evidence for that?); a healing?

This specification of pork at the Last Supper will come as a surprise, probably especially to Avraham Ben David.  Yet, lack of awareness of Jewish dietary laws would not be unusual at that time in the context of Jews in Danish history. There were few Jews there at the time.  See FN 1

It is a boar there on the platter. There are the two lower incisor tusks.  No lamb, that.

The detail in the ceiling frescoes, fit in between the arches, is worth oversizing.  To reduce the enlargement, click on the picture.

Turn your computer upside down to see them all. We like these better than Michelangelo's; who is the artist for this Sistine of the North?

The frescoes date from 1400-1525.  See ://atasteofdenmark.blogspot.com/2010/05/elsinorehelsingr-and-kronborg.html

This is not the Frederick II, he redid Kronborg Castle from a fortress to be his matrimonial home. See ://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Denmark/Frederiksborg_Amt/Helsingoer-163074/Things_To_Do-Helsingoer-TG-C-1.html/  Not fancy enough to be a King's burial place.  Have to check. who this one is.

FN 1.  Pork at the Last Supper.  Boar at the Last Supper. At a Jewish repast?  Easily understood:

The frescoes date from the 1400's to early and mid 1500's.  There may have been individual families or groups of Jews in Denmark at the time, but it was not until Christian IV established a formal connection with Jews, inviting Sephardic Jews to settle in Denmark to fill important roles there, and enjoy financial privileges.  They they were welcomed and prospered.  In 1605, a royal letter of protection issued as to the Jews. The Danes on their own were not competing well with other parts of Europe, especially mighty Hamburg,  in imports and exports, and many Jews of the time had superior educations and practical experience in finance and administration.  See The History of the Jews in Denmark at ://www.jewishgen.org/scandinavia/history.htm/.  Since "Christians" were forbidden to be "usurious" (charge interest), they simply passed on that area of commercial life to others; then later condemned Jews for doing it -- yet that was one of the only economic areas where a Jew could even earn a living in the broader community. 

Since then, usury is a big Christian business.  As to the Last Supper, we understand that wine and bread would be served between other courses, and would not be a "supper" in itself.  If boar is in Danish woods, and used for fine dinners, then boar it is.

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