Saint Thomas and Christ,
Sculpted by Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488),
Sculpted between 1467-1483,
Cast bronze
© Orsanmichele Church, Florence

Saint Thomas and Christ,
Sculpted by Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488),
Sculpted between 1467-1483,
Cast bronze
© Orsanmichele Church, Florence

Gospel of 3 July 2024

The Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

John 20: 24-29

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Reflection on the sculpture

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. Thomas has come to be known as "Doubting Thomas," yet there was much more to him than his doubt. The risen Lord’s face-to-face encounter with Thomas in our Gospel reading today dispelled all his doubts and led him to one of the most profound professions of faith in all the Gospels: "My Lord and my God."  Thomas's declaration affirms Christ’s full humanity (my Lord) and full divinity (my God).

Because we live only in hope of such a face-to-face meeting with the Lord, there will always be some element of doubt in our own faith. As Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, "Now we see as in a mirror, dimly." The questions and doubts of our reasoning are an inevitable part of seeing dimly. They are not enemies of faith; rather, they can lead to its deepening. If we face our doubts and our questions honestly, as Thomas did, and bring them to each other and to the Lord, we too can reach a point where we can make Thomas’ confession our own, ‘My Lord and my God’.

Our late-15th-century sculpture by Andrea del Verrocchio beautifully captures the poignant interaction between Christ and Saint Thomas. The sculpture's expressive detail allows us to almost hear their profound dialogue. The Risen Christ stands in a regal pose, contrasting sharply with Saint Thomas’ agitated, nervous, and merely human state. Originally crafted to occupy one of the fourteen niches on the exterior walls of the Orsanmichele Church in Florence, the figures were cast without modeled backs, intended to be viewed only from the front. This artistic choice emphasises the frontal interaction, drawing the viewer into the intimate and transformative moment shared by Christ and Thomas.

Born in Florence as Andrea di Michele di Francesco de' Cioni, Verrocchio trained under Donatello, whose influence is evident in his early works. Verrocchio established a highly successful workshop in Florence, which became a hub for aspiring artists. Among his most famous pupils were Leonardo da Vinci and Pietro Perugino, who would go on to become significant figures in their own right. Though Verrocchio was primarily known as a sculptor, he also painted. He died in Venice in 1488, leaving behind a legacy of artistic achievement that continued to inspire the trajectory of Renaissance art.

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Rosemary Hart
Member
Rosemary Hart
12 days ago

I’ve twice had an experience that I believe is very common. People whom I loved passed away, but their souls returned to comfort me. It’s such a well-known experience that I’m sure atheists have some explanation of their own for it – something like “wishful thinking”… My mother’s contact with me was always gentle, but my partner could really startle me! Wishful thinking can’t startle you, so I know these encounters were real….

(This has nothing to do with seances – I believe those are wide open to deceit and exploitation. If your loved ones are going to return to you, they do so. You don’t need an imtermediary.)

So I think, on the one hand, there’s everything I’ve been taught about Jesus’ resurrection, and on the other hand, there’s my own experiences of contact with those who have passed away. I ask myself: “How could this possibly happen unless Jesus rose from the dead?” and in my thinking it couldn’t! So I feel certain of the resurrection.

These’s also a wonderful book, “Who Moved the Stone?” by Frank Morison, which is online. Having begun by thinking he’d write a book to debunk the resurrection of Jesus, he carefully examined all the evidence and was forced to change his mind. He leaves you in no doubt that Jesus really rose from the dead!

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
12 days ago
Reply to  Rosemary Hart

Thank you, Rosemary, for sharing your precious experiences. I read the book many years ago, and recently gave it as a present. Now I think I should re-read it. 🌺

Rosemary Hart
Member
Rosemary Hart
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Thanks, Noelle! I had to go to hospital (nothing bad) so couldn’t write earlier in the day and get more responses.
I think “Who Moved the Stone?” is one of the most important books ever written.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
12 days ago

For Chazbo:
“A stolen Titian which was found in a plastic bag at a London bus stop has sold for £17.5m at auction. The sale of Rest On The Flight Into Egypt, painted around 1510 and stolen from Longleat in 1995, has set a new auction record for the Venetian artist.”

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Ooh really. I hadn’t checked. Thank you Noelle.

Antonio Portelli
Member
Antonio Portelli
13 days ago

The news was ‘ too good to be true’ for Thomas. Apparently he was the only Apostle NOT afraid to venture out of the room. But he loved Jesus dearly as evidenced by his solemn declaration ” My Lord and my God”. Thanks to him we know are HAPPY (BLESSED) because we truly believe in Jesus.

Readings related to John 20: 24-29

28 May 2023

John 20:19-23

Pentecost - Receive the Holy Spirit

7 April 2024

John 20:19-31

Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’

3 July 2019

John 20: 24-29

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

27 December 2021

John 20:2-8

John, the other disciple, the one Jesus loved

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