Art Spotlight: The Soul of Judas

Art Spotlight: The Soul of Judas
'Judas Hanging Himself' by Giovanni Canavesio, 1491. DeAgostini/Getty

I chose a rather beautiful, uplifting image to accompany today's podcast episode "How much does a soul weigh?" But of course the notion of an immortal soul isn't always puffy clouds and sunsets. Just consider this 15th-century fresco by Giovanni Canavesio from Notre-Dame des Fontaines Chapel in La Brigue, France.

Here we see Judas Iscariot, the traitor apostle who, in Christian traditions, betrayed the incarnate God for 30 silver coins and then hanged himself out of shame and grief. There's also generally a good bit of disembowelment in deceptions (stemming from a description in the book of Acts), and here it's presented as a Xenomorph-style exit wound through which a demon steals the soul of Judas.

So there's the human soul depicted as a screaming, naked diminutive human. It's grisly stuff, and quite in keeping with the hellish dark side to belief in the survival of human consciousness.