Crucifix of Holy Saturday 2014-2015

Crucifix of Holy Saturday
Oil on canvas attached to wood. 100 x 136 cm, 2014-2015.

Crucifix of Holy Saturday in Kallio Church is the size 100 x 136 cm. The work is an oil paint on a fabric attached to wood. The inspiration for this painting comes from ​​the famous 12th century San Damiano Crucifix, which is said to have spoken to Francis of Assisi: “Repair my church”.

Where does the name of crucifix come from? Jesus is buried just as the Sabbath is about to begin. Joseph of Arimathaea puts the ruined body of Jesus in to the tomb. On Holy Saturday, the congregation is at zero point. The master is in the grave, hopes and expectations shattered. On this day we remember Jesus in tomb. According to one interpretation, Jesus went to the hell to get all the people who were already there, all the way to Adam.

Otso Kantokorpi blog

Kirkko ja kaupunki article

The lowest part of the crucifix

Gate of Birkenau

At the bottom of the painting I have painted the gate of Birkenau, Auschwitz II. It had access to an area of ​​175 hectares and there were more than 300 buildings. The Birkenau camp was primarily a extermination camp of the Jews. There were also many Romanies  and homosexuals among the victims. In total, an estimated 1.5 million prisoners passed through the camp. The edge ornament of the crucifix with a barbed wire fence surrounds the entire painting. The four saints in the painting are from left to right: 1) Seija Järvenpää, a Finnish christian NGO worker, who died on 24 July. 2014 in Harat, Afghanistan. 2) German theologian and priest Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed on April 9, 1945 at the Flossenbürg concentration camp. He was a founding member of the anti-Nazi Church of Confession, a resistance fighter, and participated in Hitler’s insidious conspiracy. 3) St. Mary of Paris died in March 1945 in the Ravensbrük concentration camp. She helped the Jews out of the country and hid them in her home. 4) St. Maxilmilian Kolbe died on 14 August 1941 in Auschwitz. He was a Polish Franciscan brother who sacrificed himself in front of another prisoner.

St. Francis of Assisi, a peacock and a sparrow

A peacock and a sparrow
St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi (c. 3. 10 1226), “The little poor man of God,” founded the Franciscan Brotherhood. The symbols of the saint include birds, animals, stigmata, wolves and fire. The peacock has been considered a sacred bird because it was believed that its flesh would not rot. For this reason, the early Christians used it as a symbol of the resurrection and eternal life. In the time of Jesus sparrows were cheap sacrificial animal: ”Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

Other birds of the crucifix

A bullfinch, a wagtail and face of Christ
Raven and lark

There are two birds in each point of the cross. This idea arose from the sermon of Francis to birds. After blessing the birds with a cross, they rose into the air and were divided into four groups according to the cross. One flock headed east, another west, a third south, and a fourth flock north to bring the message of the risen Christ. Swallows are traditionally symbols of missionary work. Larks were especially dear to St. Francis. The raven was sent first after the flood to search for dry land. According to legend, wagtail waves its tail because it was shocked by the crucifixion of Jesus. According to another legend, bullfinch got its color from a drop of Jesus’ blood.

Small characters Longinus and Stephaton


Longinus is a Roman soldier stabbed the side of Christ with his spear: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:34) Blood symbolizes communion and water baptism. Stephaton drank sour wine for Jesus: ”Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.” (John 19:29)

Five eyewitnesses to the crucifixion

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob, and the centurion
St. Mary and st. John

On the side of Jesus ’wound, the dignitaries are Jesus’ mother Mary and the apostle John. They look at each other as if hearing the words of Jesus on the cross: ”When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:26-27) To the right is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob, and the centurion, who is considered to be the official of the king described in John 4: 46-50, whose sick son Jesus healed. Behind him, there are also many small figures depicting that the all of the house members were saved.

The upper part of the crucifix

The upper part of the crucifix

The hand of the Father and the rejoicing angels receive the glorified Jesus Christ in heaven. Jesus rises from the tomb inside the oval shape, reminiscent of a new beginning like an Easter egg.

Side altar at Kallio church Helsinki