Artibus et Historiae no. 36 (XVIII)1997, ISSN 0391-9064
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CHRISTINE M. BOECKL - The Pisan Triumph of Death and the Papal Constitution Benedictus Deus
The new interpretation of a fresco known as the Triumph of Death in Pisa concerns itself with issues of Western theology such as Pope Benedict XII's bull of 1336. The pontiff stated ex cathedra that each soul will be judged immediately after death and not solely at the end of time as his predecessor, John XXII, had proposed. Thus, Benedictus Deus was an important document in the contemporary debate on eschatology. The Triumph of Death visualizes these dogmatic changes in its allegorical devices. Most importantly, the painting alludes to the increased significance of the immortal soul. The mural portrays the transi (the decaying corpse) as expendable. Formally, the body was thought essential for its resurrection, now it has become merely a symbol and a reminder of the soul's impending trial at the time of death.