Collection: Meeting of St. Abraham and Melchizedek

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Peter Paul Rubens – c. 1625

The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizidek is a highly finished modello, or sketch, for one of the Old Testament prefiguration’s of the Eucharist. This story from Genesis tells of the gifts of bread and wine that Abraham received from the Priest-King of Salem, Melchizedek, after returning from a victorious battle (Gen. 14: 17-20).

Catholic theologians viewed Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine as a prefiguration of the Last Supper, and even saw Melchizedek, whose name means “king of Justice,” as a prefiguration of Christ. In Rubens’s vivid portrayal, the scene unfolds on an illusionistically painted tapestry held aloft by putti before an architectural framework. Abraham, in armor standing at the head of his band of soldiers, appears in the center, gratefully receiving loaves of bread from Melchizidek. As the two men lean toward one another, they lock eyes as though they have a premonition, unshared by the others, that the bread and wine have significance beyond bodily sustenance.

His feast day is October 9.