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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Rotherfield, E Sussex (†Chichester) C.14?

The Incredulity of Thomas

Incredulity of Thomas, Rotherfield

One of the post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ, where his disciple Thomas expressed doubts about his corporeal reality. Here Thomas does what Christ invites him to do in the Biblical account in John 20: 24-29 (although the Gospel does not in fact record him actually doing it) – reaching out his hand to thrust it into Christ’s side. Christ, his hand on the shoulder of the kneeling Thomas, still holds the banner of the Resurrection, its staff faintly visible in his left hand.

If the painting was part of a Passion Cycle nothing is left of the other scenes now, although there are fragments of unidentifiable painting below and around it. But its position at the east end of the North Aisle puts it in close proximity to the painting of St Michael Weighing Souls at Rotherfield, which might mean that it is there to warn people about the importance of faith and trust, which will go into the balance against sins at the Weighing.

The painting may be rather earlier than the fragmentary 14th century Doom (which has, though, almost certainly been overpainted in the 15th century). Certainly it is a graceful painting, with the figures well articulated, and a subject seldom found in the English church. The Passion Cycle at Little Witchingham has possibly the finest example.

Website for St Denys’, Rotherfield