By Costanza Beltrami

The Monday following Easter Sunday is a religious holiday in Italy. It celebrates the day when three Holy Women—disciples of Christ identified at different points of the Bible with various individuals named Mary—arrived at the tomb of Christ to finish dressing his dead body and learned that his tomb was empty as he had resurrected. 

The event is related in the Gospel of Mark: 

‘When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb? But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. […]’

The young man at the tomb has traditionally been considered an angel. Indeed, Italians call this day ‘lunedí del’’angelo’ (Monday of the angel). The joyful discovery made by the Three Marys at Christ’s tomb has been represented countless times by Italian artists. 

Jacopo di Cione and workshop, The Three Marys at the Sepulchre1370-1, National Gallery, London. Source: The National Gallery

Fra Angelico, detail from the Armadio degli Argenti, 1451-52, tempera on wood, Museo di San Marco, Florence. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Annibale Carracci, Holy Women at Christ’ s Tomb, 1590s, oil on canvas, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Source: Web Gallery of Art

Antiveduto Grammatica, Mary Magdalene at the Tomb, 1620-22, oil on canvas,
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Source: Web Gallery of Art

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