The Apostolic Ideal at the Monastery of Saint John in Müstair (Switzerland)
In the painted program of the monastery of Saint John, in Müstair, Switzerland, emphasis on the apostolic mission to preach—given at Christ’s Ascension, then fulfilled by the missions and martyrdoms of apostles and apostolic figures—connects the monks of Müstair to local and empirewide trends. The original apostles were prominently depicted in the basilica on the apsidal arch and west wall and in the lowest register of the long walls, while the apses plot the apostolic tradition that leads from the apostles to the resident monks. The north apse authenticates Paul’s apostolate through images of his pairing with Peter in the Traditio clavium et legis, their meeting, and their dispute with Simon Magus; his settling of a dispute between Jewish and Gentile Christians justifies and highlights his apostolate. The tradition continues in the south apse with the local apostolic figure Vigilius, in whose Passio the apostolic activity of preaching dominates. Finally, John the Baptist prefigures all apostolic activity as a sort of protoapostle who, through his preaching and baptizing, most pertinently models and justifies the convergence of monastic vocation and pastoral engagement. John’s patronage of the sanctuary at the monastery of Saint John links the apostolic theme of the frescoes to the monks who worshipped before them.
Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Art and Design | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Medieval Studies
Jenny Kirsten Ataoguz (2013).
The Apostolic Ideal at the Monastery of Saint John in Müstair (Switzerland). Gesta.52 (2), 1-23.