I was scrolling through Tumblr and came across a painting from the Prado, "The Desecration of the Crucifix or The Christ of the Insults". I didn't understand what it depicted and searched online. It turns out the painting depicts one of the episodes in the story of desecration and offense to a crucifix, this time by a family of Portuguese Jews in Madrid in 1630. Researching the story, I believe it to be a hysterical invention to slander New Christians or Conversos at the time, memorialized in art. Much like 'blood libel' cases of Jews killing children and drinking their blood - a trope resurrected today by QAnon conspirators and several of their MAGA followers: E.g. "QAnon followers claim the drug adrenochrome is harvested from the blood of children by Hollywood elites." Dig deeper and links to the Jews as perpetrators is claimed. It's an old lie, with Christian roots.
("Kanye West's recent statements draw on longstanding anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories about Jewish people. Ye’s comments also reflect beliefs espoused by fringe anti-Semitic religious groups, including extremist sects of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement and the Nation of Islam." - read more at ADL: Kanye West - What you need to know.)
The Lisbon Massacre
The painting which caught my attention is not related to the 1506 Lisbon Massacre, since what is depicted took place at later date in Madrid. Yet I believe it is part of the continuum of circumstances precipitated the Lisbon Massacre of 1506. I will copy and paste, with links to another site wherein I found a good history and commentary.
|A German woodcut depicting the massacre, |
one of the few woodcuts that survived the 1755
Lisbon earthquake and the fire at Torre do Tombo
The Lisbon Massacre, alternatively known as the Lisbon Pogrom or the 1506 Easter Slaughter was an incident in April, 1506, in which a crowd of Catholics, as well as foreign sailors who were anchored in the Tagus, persecuted, tortured, killed, and burnt at the stake hundreds of people who were accused of being Jews and, thus, guilty of deicide and heresy. This incident took place thirty years before the establishment of the Inquisition in Portugal and nine years after the Jews were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1497, during the reign of King Manuel I. Because the victims were Marranos or Conversos (Jews who had become Catholics), it was somewhat unique among incidents of anti-Semitic violence. It is also known as the Easter Massacre. It is estimated to have resulted in the violent deaths of anywhere between 1,000 to 4,000 men, women and children.
The massacre began at Convent of Saint Dominic, on Sunday, April 19, 1506, when the believers were praying for the end of the drought and plague that ravaged Portugal, and someone claimed to have seen the face of Christ lit at the church altar – a phenomenon that was interpreted as a miracle by the Catholics present.
A New Christian who also attended the mass tried to explain that this miracle was only the reflection of a light, but the crowd would not listen to him and beat him to death. As from there onwards, the Jews who were already viewed with suspicion became the scapegoat of drought, hunger and plague. - Richard Harvey, Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
Antisemitism, specifically anti-Judaism - exists on the left and the right.
Could it happen again? It is happening today, right now. What it might become may be seen elsewhere around the globe - not always against Jews at first, but certainly against Christians. E.g. The massacres and burning of churches in Africa. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia to save the country from Satanists and neo-Nazis, are just two examples of genocidal crimes with 'religious' motivation. In the United States, the anti-Semitic rhetoric and activities by the extreme rightwing is growing, while anti-Zionism/anti-Israel sentiments can likewise be found on the left. It is too complicated for me to discuss here, to be sure. However it seems to me we may be on the precipice of suffering the same kind of violence we witness in other places, Africa, Middle East, Ukraine, just to name a few.
I'm no expert or historian of course, but I believe we are on the precipice, as the Pope mentioned today in Bahrain, warning "...we continue to find ourselves on the brink of a delicate precipice and we do not want to fall."