The cross at the centre of history - A painting by Florence Dubois



This painting presents the biblical account of the flow of human history. The painting is to be read from left to right.

Our planet appears at bottom left: the artist has used a grainy product to emphasise the materiality of creation. Other planets in our solar system can also be seen.

Then we see our first parents next to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam had been told not to eat the fruit, but the temptation was too strong to want to be "like God". This desire for autonomy (which literally means creating one's own laws) has led humanity into countless evils throughout our history.

Then the picture becomes dark, but God seeks to reconnect with the inhabitants of the planet and establishes an alliance with the Hebrew people as a "bridgehead" to humanity. He communicates his will to them, known as the Ten Commandments, engraved on two stone tablets that can be seen in the painting.

In the middle of the painting stands the cross - dark against the dark sky, and set up on the ochre earth of the Middle East to emphasise the historicity of the crucifixion. Jesus accepted death on the cross out of love for us, because that is how he bore, in our place, the punishment we deserved for our rebellion against God. But behind the cross, a new day dawns and a path leads to life with God.

At the end of this path, a new life in relationship with God is indicated by a dove's wing, which represents the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the believer at the time of his or her "new birth", as Jesus announced. Reconciliation with God allows each person who turns to him to flourish, and this is illustrated by the greenery below the dove. Nevertheless, the Christian continues to live in this world that opposes God, and the dark colours here highlight this other reality in human life.

Finally, according to the biblical promise, believers, both the dead and the living, will be transformed at the end of the world into a new mode of existence on a renewed earth. The artist has used the same artistic process at the top right of the picture as at the beginning of her painting to draw our attention to the continuity of God's plan for those who have accepted his offer of reconciliation. The transition to a new way of life resembles the mutation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, the wing of which can be seen at this point in the painting. Finally, the colours on the right and the golden square recall the symbolic description of this new world, in the form of a New Jerusalem, which is found at the end of the Bible, in the final chapters of the book of Revelation.