Il Giudizio Universale
Il Giudizio Universale è un affresco di m 13,7 x
12,2 realizzato tra il 1536 ed il 1541 dal pittore italiano Michelangelo
È conservato nella Cappella Sistina (Musei Vaticani).
Il primo papa ad aver l’idea di far affrescare a Michelangelo la Cappella
Sistina fu papa Clemente VII nel 1533, dopo la sua morte il progetto fu ripreso
da papa Paolo III ed occupa l’intera parete dietro all’altare della Cappella con
oltre trecento figure raggruppate in una potente visione della fine del mondo.
Nel giugno del 1535, Michelangelo fece montare i ponteggi, la parete fu
rivestita di uno strato di mattoni, con maggiore spessore in alto e minore in
basso, in modo che la superficie risultasse leggermente inclinata, probabilmente
per ragioni di migliore visibilità piuttosto che per evitare il deposito delle
polveri. Il pittore iniziò a dipingere l’anno successivo dalla lunette, la parte
superiore fu terminata nel dicembre 1540; il dipinto venne terminato il 31
Nel gennaio 1564, un mese prima della morte di Michelangelo, il Concilio di
Trento approvò la richiesta di alcuni prelati di coprire le parti intime delle
La persona che si occupò di questo lavoro fu Daniele da Volterra, allievo di
Michelangelo, e per questo motivo venne soprannominato "Braghettone"; Daniele
morì due anni dopo non portando a termine il lavoro.
In seguito papa Clemente VIII ebbe la tentazione di distruggere questa opera, ma
fu persuaso a non farlo.
Altri interventi censori seguirono negli anni successivi, alternati ad
interventi di manutenzione e di restauro.
I fumi delle candele e le colle date per tentare di aumentare la luminosità
dell’affresco finirono col formare un velo scuro di sporco che ne impediva la
L’intervento di restauro realizzato tra il 1990 e 1994 ha permesso di recuperare
la nitidezza dei colori, il vigore delle forme, la definizione dei particolari e
l’unità complessiva dell’opera.
Al centro è raffigurato Cristo circondato dai santi e con la madre al suo fianco.
Gesù è raffigurato con il braccio destro alzato in un gesto collerico di
dannazione mentre con la mano sinistra chiama gentilmente a sé i beati.
Sopra di lui, nelle due zone semicircolari, alcuni angeli portano gli strumenti
della passione di Cristo: la colonna sulla quale fu flagellato e la croce sulla
quale fu crocefisso.
In basso, alla sinistra del Cristo, è raffigurato San Bartolomeo. Sulla pelle
che tiene in mano vi è un autoritratto di Michelangelo.
Da notare la figura della Madre di Cristo in atteggiamento rassegnato. Esprime
pietà per tutti ma sa che non può intervenire.
Divine judgment (judicium divinum), as an immanent
act of God, denotes the action of God's retributive justice by which the destiny
of rational creatures is decided according to their merits and demerits. In
Christian doctrine, this includes:
God's knowledge of the moral worth of the acts of free creatures (scientia
approbationis et reprobationis), and His decree determining the just
consequences of such acts;
the Divine verdict upon a creature amenable to the moral law, and the execution
of this sentence by way of reward and punishment.
Of course, the judgment, as it is in God, cannot be a process of distinct and
successive acts; it is a single eternal act identical with the Divine Essence.
But the effects of the judgment, since they take place in creatures, follow the
sequence of time. The Divine judgment is manifested and fulfilled at the
beginning, during the progress and at the end of time.
In the beginning, God pronounced judgment upon the whole race, as a consequence
of the fall of its representatives, the first parents (Genesis 3). Death and the
infirmities and miseries of this were the consequences of that original sentence.
Besides this common judgment there have been special judgments on particular
individuals and peoples. Such great catastrophes as Noah's flood (Genesis 6:5),
the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 28:20), the earthquake that swallowed up Core
and his followers (Numbers 16:30), the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 6:6; 12:12) and
the evil that came upon other oppressors of Israel (Ezekiel 25:11; 28:22) are
represented in the Bible as Divine judgments. The fear of God is such a
fundamental idea in the Old Testament that it insists mainly on the punitive
aspect of the judgment (cf. Proverbs 11:31; Ezekiel 14:21). An erroneous view of
these truths led many of the rabbis to teach that all the evil which befalls man
is a special chastisement from on high, a doctrine which was declared false by
There is also a judgment of God in the world that is subjective. By his acts man
adheres to or deviates from the law of God, and thereby places himself within
the sphere of approval or condemnation. In a sense then, each individual
exercises judgment on himself. Hence it is declared that Christ came not to
judge but to save (John 3:17; 8:15; 12:47). The internal judgment proceeds
according to a man's attitude: towards Christ (John 3:18). Though all the
happenings of life cannot be interpreted as the outcome of Divine judgment,
whose external manifestation is therefore intermittent, the subjective judgment
is coextensive with the life of the individual and of the race.
The judgment at the end of time will complement the previous visitations of
Divine retribution and will manifest the final result of the daily secret
judgment. By its sentence the eternal destiny of creatures will be decided. As
there is a twofold end of time, so there is likewise a twofold eternal judgment:
the particular judgment, at the hour of death, which is the end of time for the
individual, and the general judgment, at the final epoch of the world's
existence, which is the end of time for the human race.
Pre-Christian beliefs on judgment after death
The idea of a final readjustment beyond the grave, which would rectify the sharp
contrast so often observed between the conduct and the fortune of men, was
prevalent among all nations in pre-Christian times. Such was the doctrine of
metempsychosis or the transmigration of souls, as a justification of the ways of
God to man, prevailing among the Hindus of all classes and sects, the
Pythagoreans, the Orphic mystics and the Celtic Druids. The doctrine of a
forensic judgment in the unseen world, by which the eternal lot of departed
souls is determined, was also widely prevalent in pre-Christian times.
The Pharaonic Egyptian idea of the judgment is set forth with great precision of
detail in the "Book of the Dead", a collection of formulas designed to aid the
dead in their passage through the underworld.
The Babylonians and the Assyrians made no distinction between the good and the
bad so far as the future habitation is concerned. In the Gilgames epic the hero
is marked as judge of the dead, but whether his rule was the moral value of
their actions is not clear.
An unerring judgment and compensation in the future life was a cardinal point in
the mythologies of the Persians, Greeks and Romans. But, while these
mythological schemes were credited as strict verities by the ignorant body of
the people, the learned saw in them only the allegorical presentation of truth.
There were always some who denied the doctrine of a future life, and this
unbelief went on increasing till, in the last days of the Republic, skepticism
regarding immortality prevailed among Greeks and Romans.
With the Jews, the judgment of the living was a far more prominent idea than the
judgment of the dead. The Pentateuch contains no express mention of remuneration
in the future life, and only at a comparatively late period, under the influence
of a fuller revelation, the belief in resurrection and judgment began to play a
capital part in the faith of Judaism. The traces of this theological development
are plainly visible in the Machabean era. Then arose the two great opposing
parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, whose divergent interpretations of
Scripture led to heated controversies, especially regarding the future life.
The Sadducees denied all reward and penalty in the hereafter, while there
opponents encumbered the truth with ludicrous details. Thus some of the rabbis
asserted that the trumpet which would summon the world to judgment would be one
of the horns of the ram which Abraham offered up instead of his son Isaac. Again
they said: "When God judges the Israelites, He will stand, and make the judgment
brief and mild; when He judges the Gentiles, he will sit and make it long and
severe." Apart from such rabbinical fables, the current belief reflected in the
writings of the rabbis and the pseudographs at the beginning of the Christian
Era was that of a preliminary judgment and of a final judgment to occur at the
consummation of the world, the former to be executed against the wicked by the
personal prowess of the Messiah and of the saints of Israel, the latter to be
pronounced as an eternal sentence by God or the Messiah. The particular judgment
of the individual person is lost sight of in the universal judgment by which the
Messiah vindicate the wrongs endured by Israel.
With Alexandrian Judaism, on the contrary, with that at least of which Philo is
the exponent, the dominant idea was that of an immediate retribution after death.
The two dissenting sects of Israel, the Essenes and the Samaritans, were in
agreement with the majority of Jews as to the existence of a discriminating
retribution in the life to come. The Essenes believed in the preexistence of
souls, but taught that the after-existence was an unchanging state of bliss or
woe according to the deeds done in the body. The eschatological tenets of the
Samaritans were at first few and vague. Their doctrine of the resurrection and
of the day of vengeance and recompense was a theology patterned after the model
of Judaism, and first formulated for the sect by its greatest theologian, Marka
(A.D. fourth century)