Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


A Drawing of Jesus

They saw that it was from a letter from the senator Publius Lentulus, pro-consul in Judeia, to Tiberius Cesar in Rome, that the renaissance painters based on to paint the picture of Jesus. They saw that this letter would be in the archives of the eternal city, better yet, in the Vatican library until this very day, but, conclusive proof of this document, no one can give. This is lamentable, because this letter constitutes a notable document of description of the physical and phychological traces of Jesus, done by an intelligent and observing politician. Along history various versions of this document, succinct, complete, all very consistent among them, in a way that the validity and possible real existence. The most interesting text came inserted in an old book of medieval Portuguese literature, in which the author states that he copied it from the original in Latin, Vita Cristi. This edition was written in a very archaic Portuguese, which gives it a completely different flavor, curious and rich in semantic value.

“Today there lives in Judeia a man of singular virtue, who is called Jesus Cristo; the barbarians have him as a profet; his sectarians adore him as being sent to us by the immortal gods. He raises the dead and cares for the sick, with his words and his touch; he is tall and well built; he semblant is always placid and admirable; His hair is of an almost indefinable color and fall in curls until below the ears and fall upon his shoulders, with much grace, parted in the middle as in the Nazerene way”.

“His forehead is smooth and wide and his cheeks are tainted with an admirable rubor. The nose and the mouth are formed in perfect symmetry; the beard, dense and of a corresponding color to the hair, extends one inch below his chin, forking out”

His eyes are brilliant and serene, and what surprises one is, resplandecing in his like the rays of the sun, but no one can fixedly look at his semblant, because when it shines out it terrifies, and when it calms, makes one cry; he makes one love him and happily with profound respect. He has graceful arms and hands”.

“He admonishes with majesty and exhorts with tenderness; When crying or talking, he always does with the most profound elegance and gravity. He is of such knowledge that the whole city of Jerusalem admires him; he has never been to school and yet knows so much. He walks barefoot and with nothing at all on his head. Many people openly laugh at him for this, but in his presence, talking with him, one trembles and marvels. No one has ever heard him laugh but has seen him cry many, many times. He is sober, very modest and very caste. So, he is a man, for his beauty and perfection, surpasses the sons of other men”.

In the medieval text, there are more explanations defining colors and situations, for example, “his hair was the color of ripe chestnuts, and falls to his ears, smooth and orderly; and thrown back, it was curly, covering and protecting his shoulders. His forehead was smooth and very light colored, his face being without wrinkles and marks, which made his skin a lustrous rubor”.

By the facts, it isn’t hard to conclude that drawers and painters at the end if the middle-ages, or in pleno renaissance, never had and difficulty in drawing him, because in moderns terms we could call this the first identikit picture in history, of a truly universal personality. And eternal!

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