When Freud met the Antichrist in Orvieto

by Leanne Ogasawara

Built at the beginning of the 15th century on the place of sacristy of the Orvieto Cathedral.


I had been in Orvieto about a week, when a young American woman came up to me in the painted chapel and said, “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

Not waiting for my answer she continued, “Do you have any idea what these paintings mean?”

Looking at her astonished face, I gestured toward the eastern wall and whispered, “Well, over there is the Antichrist.”

Her friend joined us. They turned toward the wall where I was pointing and squinted.

“But he looks like Jesus Christ,” she said.

Fresco 1500

I handed her friend my fancy bird-watching binoculars and said,“Yes, but look at his face. See how Satan is controlling his movements? Like a puppet master.”

“What is this place?” Her friend with my binoculars asked.

“It is the Last Judgement, painted by Luca Signorelli in 1500.”

“It looks like a war.” She said.

“It is a war,” I responded. Read more »