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Title / Description: Final JudgmentCommentary: Images of the Last Judgment were difficult to ignore in Medieval Europe, especially for town and city dwellers, since many churches had at least one such image. Martin Luther claimed that he was terrified by this scene when he was a monk, for it reminded him of his sinfulness and of the fate that lay in store for him. This German woodcut is true to form: we see Jesus sitting on his judgment seat, separating the just from the damned on the last day. The just rise from the dead to eternal bliss, while demons drag the damned to hell for eternity. On one side of Jesus's head we see a lily, which symbolizes his mercy, on the other we see a sword, which symbolizes his justice. Brother Martin, who focused on the sword, and on his own inescapable sinfulness, could not bring himself to look at the Last Judgment scene in his monastery's refectory (dining hall).
Object Type: image - woodcut
Date: 16th c
Author of Commentary: Carlos Eire
Source: Eire, Carlos M. N. Private slide collection