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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Risby, Suffolk (†St Edmundsbury) C.14

The Appearance to Mary Magdalene

“Jesus said unto her, Mary. She turned herself and said unto him Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”
(John 20:16)
The Appearance to Mary Magdalene, Risby

This is the only remaining scene from a Passion Cycle in the church. It is faded and damaged, but this is one of the least often pictured post-Resurrection appearances of Christ (the Incredulity of Thomas, for example, is more common and there are a couple of examples on this site).

Christ, who has a large halo, is at the right (whether sitting or standing is not clear). Mary kneels, head bowed, at his feet, which she is reaching forward to touch with her right hand while her left is raised towards Christ This is the Noli Me Tangere moment of John 20:17 . Christ extends his right hand in a gesture of blessing. At the far left, a very faded tree signifies that this incident happens outdoors, and further left beyond that you may be able to see an axe, virtually the only remaining visible detail from a vanished Resurrection with sleeping soldiers (one of them the owner of the axe) at the sepulchre.

There are faded and scrappy remains of other paintings at Risby, but most of them (some other Passion scenes and a possible Infancy Cycle) are simply beyond help now. A single scene from a Life of St Margaret, said to show Margaret birching the Devil, might just be redeemable, and I will include it here in due course if it is.

Website & contact information for St Giles church. Risby