The dead Christ venerated by Pius VCa. 1572. Oil on copperplate, 42 x 30 cm.
Christ lies dead on a bed beside which Pope Pius V kneels, surrounded by angels. Above them, two angels hold a chalice and a communion wafer, symbols of his death and resurrection. On the lower part of the painting, the skeleton of Adam alludes to the first man and the redemption of Original Sin. Divers elements of the Passion appear on the bed and floor, such as the Crown of Thorns and the Whip. The main subject of this work is the exaltation of the Eucharist, represented by bread and wine. The figure of Saint Pius V, Micael Ghislieri (1504-1572) is a portrait. The Pope was an especially important figure in the struggle against Protestantism during the Catholic Counterreformation. Parrasio studied in Venice with Titian, although he was later associated with Veronese. The latter gave him a variety of drawings for his compositions, including the one now at the British Museum in London, which is for the figure of Christ and the skeleton. The artist used the same composition for the altar of the Venetian church of San Giuseppe (1573) but there, he painted himself into the painting in place of the Pope. This worked entered the Monastery of El Escorial during the reign of Felipe II (1556-1598).