Crucifix of Peace of St.Paul’s Church measures 100.5 x 164 cm and weighs 21 kg. The work is an oil paint on a fabric attached to a tree. Historically, the physical form of the painting rises from medieval Italian crucifixes, such as the works of Giunta Pisano (1190-1260) and Coppo di Marcovaldo (1225-1276). I started to paint it 2015 and it was completed by easter 2021. The main vision is the peace in the book of Isaiah: ”And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 25:7-8)
Symbolls and details of the work:
The lifebuoy ornament wraps around the edges of the entire painting and at the top it is large in size. I created the lifebuoy symbol after pain from the influx of refugees in the Mediterranean sea. An estimated 17,000 refugees died by 2019. Inside the upper great lifebuoy is Jesus, a Good Shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulder.
The maritime theme is repeated on the main panel of the painting. Behind Christ a seascape opens at the Normandy landing site on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. At sea, ships are approaching, some of them on fire. In the painting, Christ shares the horrors and fears of war, shares the suffering of man. Priest Miika Ahola wrote on my Face book page: “Seeing violence and war machines in the crucifix is stopping and in some way provoking internal opposition. And at the same time, they seem to be in right place just in the tree of the cross. Looking at this, one is forced into the contemplation of the ugliness of mankind and the love of God. A great work of art.”
Hitler’s Buzzav and Czech Hedgehog
The main panel’s perspective is on the shore of German soldiers waiting. In the lower left corner, the soldier is ready with the finger of a lightweight MG-42 machine gun with a trigger that was nicknamed ”Hitler’s Buzzaw” by U.S. soldiers. In the lower right corner is landing barrier ”Check Hedgehog” blocking the landing.
The maritime theme is repeated in an old Christian symbol, the seashell. The seashell describes the wonder of faith and the pearl is a symbol of beauty and eternity. The shellfish is also considered a symbol of pilgrims. The shellfish theme was common in medieval Italian crucifixes and is one of the key symbols of St. Paul’s Church. In the Crucifix of Peace, the shellfish is repeated in the horizontal and vertical ornaments of the cross.
In the crucifix, Jesus is depicted according to the tradition of the suffering Christ (Christus patiens). During the 13th century, this new tradition emphasizing suffering and replaced the victorious Christ tradition (Christus triumphans). His body is twisted to the s-bend and his face is distorted with pain. Jesus has five wounds that are remembered in the Easter worship life with five red roses. Jesus’ lumbar garment is blood red. Above Jesus is the Latin text: IHSNAZARENVS, REXIVEDORVM – Jesus Christ, King of the Jews.
Virgin Mary and St. John
In medieval Italian crucifixes, horizontal side panels usually depict the Virgin Mary on the left and St. John on the right. The Crucifix of Peace follows this tradition with minor changes: the Virgin Mary and St. John both hold on to the fingers of Jesus.
A vision of peace on the top panel
The upper panel depicts hope for the coming peace, where a wolf and a sheep go together on a pasture mountain and weapons are forged into plows: ”The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 65: 25); ”…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4) In christian art, there is often a lamb carrying a victory flag. The subject of the Lamb and the Flag is also found in Paul’s Church. In the Crucifix of Peace, the flag of a lamb is in the colors of a rainbow. The rainbow symbolizes God’s peace with man after the flood. On the other hand, the rainbow flag has become a symbol to depict pluralism and the rights of sexual and gender minorities to equal treatment. St. Paul’s Church is one of the first churches in Finland to an equal marriage.
Bee and fly
In medieval crucifixes, angels are often painted on the top panel. In place of the angels, I painted a bee and a fly. The proclamation of Easter, the Exultet, prays for the Holy Father to receive the praise of the work of the hands of bees and servants: ”On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants’ hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.” In the Bible, flies also have a place: ”And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.” (Isaiah 7:18-19) The Christian medieval mystic Master Echart (1260-1328) writes in a sermon on the relationship between the fly and the angel in the Qui audit: “When in time all things are so similar, in the God of eternity they are even more so. If we take a fly as it is in God, it is more noble than the angel in himself. ” (Depth of Soul, p. 204). I want to highlight the importance of the whole of creation. If all the bees die, so will we.