Bay 23 (St Thomas the Apostle in India)

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Panel 05 - At a nuptuial feast, Thomas is struck by the King's cup-bearer


 © Stuart Whatling, 2008

Description:
This wonderful scene is a sort of "before and after", showing an act and the ultimate consequences of that act, with the intermediate step shown in panel 07. The events are described in detail in the Golden Legend (see Bourges bay 16, panels 07 & 08 for another version).

Thomas and Abbanes are attending the nuptual feast of the daughter of the Indian King Gundophorus . Thomas does not eat but keeps his eyes turned to Heaven. The Indian king's cup-bearer, offended by this, slaps the Apostle's face. Thomas responds with the words "It is better for you to receive here and now a punishment of brief duration, and to be granted forgiveness in the life to come. Know that I shall not leave this table until the hand that struck me is brought here by dogs." The steward went out to fetch water, where he was attacked and killed by a lion (shown in panel 07). Dogs then ripped his body apart and one of them brought the severed hand back into the banquet hall, as Thomas had predicted. The other guests see this with fear but a Hebrew musician girl who had heard and witnessed what happened tells the assembly about it and prostrates herself at the Apostle's feet.

The artist has omitted the detail of the Hebrew girl but has shown the slap, the arrival of the dog and one of the guests pointing it out to the King.