Triumph of the Faith (Triunfo de la Fe)

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Triumph of the Faith (Triunfo de la Fe)

This tapestry is one of the largest in the series. It has great symbolic content, although with many pagan references. Among them are the representation of Philosophy and Astronomy (two elders) and true universal knowledge, which arrives through Faith via a terrestrial globe.

Triumphs and their meaning

Serving as a platform, a chariot pulled by angels and pushed by two cherubs carries a feminine figure holding the chalice of the Eucharist and a masculine one showing the cross, the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. Other elements of the Passion carried by angels – nails and a crown of thorns – reinforce this theme.

The triumph of Faith takes place over the sciences, represented by a group of characters who are bending in humiliation. The elder leaning on a stick represents Philosophy, while the one who carries an armillary sphere represents Astronomy. The aim is to symbolize how true knowledge is arrived at through Faith, whose universality is represented by the terrestrial globe carried in the chariot.

Too many pagan reminiscences

Knowing that the way in which these triumphs were represented had too many pagan reminiscences, both here and in ‘Triumph of divine love’ and ‘Triumph of the Church’, Rubens decided to include explanatory banners; in this tapestry, Triumph of the Faith, it reads ‘FIDES CATHOLICA’.

Remarkable size

This is one of the biggest tapestries in the series. As in the others, the marks of the weaver and of Brussels, where it was manufactured, are visible. The passage of time has notably faded the primitive colouring.

Series Apotheosis of the Eucharist

Model Cartoon copied from an original by Rubens

Manufacture Brussels. Manufacture by Frans van den Hecke. Mid-17th century

Fabric Silk and wool, 7/8 warps per cm

Size 415 x 600 cm

Location Church of San Millán de la Cogolla, Oncala (Soria)

Origin A donation by Bishop Juan Francisco Ximénez del Río, c. 1800

On display Hangs from the crossing, to the left of the presbytery


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