18 Nov The tears of St. Peter
Sacristy of Toledo’s Cathedral
For me, the city of Toledo is the greatest monument to the transcendence of human life, a permanent appeal to the spiritual dimension of man, to the desires of eternity that are inscribed in our nature. Its streets, its monuments, its churches and its convents continually evoke us that desire expressed by Agustin de Hipona: “You made us, Lord, for you, and our heart is restless, until it rests in you“.
Toledo, a great monument of Christianity, is the place where the culture and the science acquired their entire dimension since the Wise King in the 13th Century. Toledo, capital of an empire and head of a region with its lands of bread. The traveler arrives to Toledo with many and varied vital attitudes. He will be able to meet the Visigothic roots that forged a Roman Hispania already identified with Christianity, but which would soon be prepared to regain its Christian faith against the invader. Visitors can follow the trail of the great saints Ignacio de Loyola, Teresa de Jesus or Juan de la Cruz who passed through the city. Toledo, crossroads of Christianity, place of theological debate, center for the highest aspirations of knowledge about the supernatural. Travelers will have in Toledo many occasions to evoke our history through the art as the summit of human creation.
Toledo’s Cathedral summarizes what this city means, from its roots to what for many —among which I am— can point the way for the future of humanity, for the man who identifies with the search for fulfillment, in the aspiration to encounter the Absolute.
When arriving to this cathedral monument, an example of the talent and creativity of architects, painters and sculptors who perfectly knew how to interpret the Catholic faith —that is the universal faith—, you will have the opportunity to access the impressive sacristy. Nothing is accessory in the Toledan Cathedral, let alone its sacristy. After touring the ante-sacristy, you will find a genuine sample of the legacy that the paint brushes of the Cretan Domenikos Theotocópulos left behind in the city that hosted him. Under the vault of the ceiling frescoed by Lucas Jordán there is an impressive “Expolio of Jesus in the altarpiece. The abundance of human figures in the scene in which the Master is caught may recall you to the inhabitants of my Toledan land from those centuries.
But, above all, we must fix our eyes on a painting in the wall behind the altar on the right that collects the weeping of the one who Jesus had chosen as the key element of his Church. With the Tears of St. Peter, El Greco was able to paint the feelings for the first time. The hands of Peter —gathered on the chest—, his moistened eyes rising up, his look blegging for forgiveness, his face reflecting that one who feels the most sincere of regrets. Everything in this painting evoke one of the scenes of greater fullness of the Gospels, the apostle chosen as leader feels the repentance for having betrayed his beloved teacher. It is the way in which any sinner can experience Redemption in the Father’s embrace.
– César Nombela Cano –
Professor of Microbiology