The Disciples on the path to Emmaus, Stone relief
Northwest corner of the lower cloister of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos, Spain)
Late 11th century-early 11th century

They are on their way, Jesus accompanies them, they do not know who he is. 

We are on our path, Jesus accompanies us, we are on pilgrimage to Santiago. As many other pilgrims did before us, we have deviated a little from the traditional route and we entered a monastery. We walk through the lower cloister and contemplate the paired reliefs in the corners. The Ascension and Pentecost, The Burial and the Descent from the Cross. We stare at the Disciples of Emmaus who share the corner with The Doubt of St. Thomas. The Benedictine monastery that welcomes us is Santo Domingo de Silos in Burgos, surrounded by high mountains.  Its cloister is a place of recollection and prayer. The so-called first Romanesque master, or rather a workshop of sculptors at the end of the 11th century, carved the reliefs, subsequently completed by another workshop in the fourth corner. 

Like many others before us, we see the two disciples following Jesus, a pilgrim, carrying a simple bag for the road with the shell of St. James. Somewhat taller than them, he even steps out of the frame, a small archway between two columns, is undoubtedly the main figure. Jesus turns slightly as he notices Cleophas touching his shoulder with his left arm to ask him not to walk on, to stay with them. We see the feet of the disciples trying to show movement, a naive technique used in the Romanesque style, following the same direction. One of Christ’s feet turns, and with that turn we know that he is going to stop. Cleophas’s right arm, with its upward force, focuses our gaze on Christ’s face, which the disciple is also looking at. The other disciple is holding a book in his hands, which Christ is going to read to them, to explain them “all that was said about him in the Scriptures”.

We are on our path, Jesus accompanies us, sometimes we don’t recognise him, but we go on. We have decided to go to Turin.

Mercedes Gómez-Ferrer
Professor of Art History
Universitat de València
Valencia 101 Team

The Disciples on the path to Emmaus, Stone relief