sacred bread

I recently watched the movie the Mill and the Cross.

I loved how the movie depicted the ceremony surrounding bread.  A mother blesses the bread before she cuts it up for her children by  placing it to her forehead. Another young women places the loaf she just bought to her forehead and then gently carries it under her shirt.

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The movie is based is on Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 1564 painting The Procession to Calvary. Do you know the one? A windmill precariously placed on a high rock and a landscape dotted with people, so crowded you almost miss the painting's namesake: Jesus carrying his cross to calvary. 

The art critic Michael Gibson poured over the painting with a magnifying glass for a year, imagining the rest of the story and researching 16th century Flanders. (Because the painting depicts the procession to Calvary as if it happened in Bruegel's day and not in 1st century Golgotha.) The movie brings Gibson's observations to life. 

In the painting, the mill sits high above the landscape, the miller looking down on the scene below but not taking part. The man who plays Bruegel in the movie says the miller is "grinding out the bread of life and destiny." It's hard to imagine a simple loaf of bread being treated with such reverence but this movie is a beautiful reminder that bread used to be a powerful symbol of life.

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Posted on April 3, 2012 and filed under Blog.