The Women at the Tomb
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German, Hildesheim, about 1170s
Tempera colors, gold leaf, silver, and ink on parchment

MS. 64, FOL. 111

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The miniature of the Women at the Tomb introduces the Mass for Easter in the Stammheim Missal. In the center, two women approach the tomb, hoping to prepare their Lord's body with spices and wondering who will help them to roll the stone away. Instead they find the tomb empty, and the angel sitting atop it explains: Ih[esu]m que[m] q[ue]ritis n[on] e[st] hic s[ed] surr[exit] (Jesus whom you seek is not here but risen). On the left, the soldiers who are supposed to be guarding Jesus' tomb sleep, oblivious that Jesus has risen. On the right, Isaiah holds a scroll with an Old Testament prophecy understood to refer to Jesus' Resurrection: "His sepulchre will be glorious." At the top, God's hand descends from the clouds with a verse from Psalm 56 on the scroll: "Arise my glory." Jesus, halfway through the roof, replies with the second part of the verse: "I will arise early."

At the bottom of the frame, the phoenix, a bird that, according to legend, burned itself and then rose from its own ashes, alludes to Christ's Resurrection. Similarly, the scenes in the four corners of the miniature show episodes from the Old Testament interpreted as prefigurations of Jesus' Resurrection.