This drawing was inspired by a passage from The Vision of Piers Plowman, an alliterative Middle English poem attributed to William Langland:
And crepe to þe croes on knees and kusse hit for a iewel
And rihtfollokest a relyk, noon richore on erthe.
For Godes blessed body hit baer for oure bote.
And hit afereth þe fende, for such is þe myhte
May no grisly goest glyde þer hit shaddeweth!
In the central image, I illustrated the liturgical rite of the Creeping of the Cross. In Medieval England, there were two occasions for this rite, one during the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday and one on the morning of Easter, after the crucifix had been disinterred from the Easter Sepulcher. It is to this latter occasion (the celebration of God’s resurrection) that Langland refers.
The apotropaic power of the Cross mentioned in the text is represented in the outer border. A horde of frightened fiends flee from it; these take obvious inspiration from medieval manuscript drolleries and the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I prefer this type of demon, compounded of disparate and nonsensical elements, as it illustrates the idea of evil being unreasonable and chaotic, and injurious to the ordered hierarchy proper to God’s creation.
Visit this web page to read my full description of this drawing. A giclée print of it can be purchased there for $77.