A Short Reflection on Heaven and Hell

This is a lovely depiction of Judgment Day (or if you are in the UK, Judgement Day) which is within the arch over the doorway on the front of the lovely French gothic revival St. Michael's (Roman Catholic) Church in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.  Most everyone notices this church from the back because it looks much more imposing and cathedral like from that side.  The front is truly lovely, though.  We noticed it because there was a wedding about to take place there, and men in kilts and ladies in elaborate hats were arriving in large black cars and gathering on the front steps as we were walking around on the main street of Enniskillen a few years ago.
On the top we have Jesus reigning over all, with (presumably) his mother Mary beside him on one side and a man (there is a banner that seems to identify him, but it is not readable in this photo).  There may be some evangelists (symbols of them at least) and maybe John the Baptist or someone else.  But at any rate, no matter who it is with Jesus there, this is highest heaven.  In the middle of the whole scene is the Archangel Michael, who obviously ought to have a prominent place in the montage since this is St Michael's church, both forming and guarding the divide between heaven and hell.

On the left, we have heaven.  Notice how nicely everyone is dressed.  Heaven is calmness itself, no?  There is nice architecture there (it appears to be either castle-y or church-y or maybe it is both).  And it is populated by both monks and queens and the more humble folk who pose with perfect piety.  They may be beseeching Christ but if so they are doing it with decorum.  And wearing soft robes.  The queen even appears to be receiving a pat on the head from another angel.  Who would not want to be part of this scene?  There's even room for more people, or perhaps there is not more room but it is simply like first class on an airline where the same size cabin houses fewer people, giving them ample legroom and leisure space.  Yes, heaven is very attractive.

And then we have hell on the right.  Why is it that people are always naked in hell?  Also, there are a lot more people in hell.  It's rather crowded.  Some are in anguish and others are just kind of there. The people are all being subdued by that fallen angel, Satan, who still has his shiny gold wings even if he too has lost his clothes.  There is another angel who seems to be Satan's backup, perhaps to help with the crowd control.  If there is architecture, it is covered up by all the bad people.  It appears, however, that there is some natural feature on the right side of the scene - a wave or something - about to overtake all of the unfortunate and underdressed folk.  Who would want to be part of this scene?

So there it is.  Obviously we want to be on the side of the soft clothes and extra legroom On That Day.


Anonymous said…
who is the artist of this sculture?