Cain and Abel Mosaics - Monreale Sicily

walwyn Mon, 04/20/2020 - 20:31
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The story of Cain and Abel is told on the wall of the North aisle of the cathedral of Montreale in Sicily. The mosaics are based on the Byzantian style and created in about 1218 by Moorish artists.

The first image depicts the scene where Cain and Abel make an offereing of their products to God. God favours Abel's offereing of a lamb and rejects Cain's offering of crops was rejected. Neither Christian nor Jewish sources can definitively say why Cain's offering was rejected and there are three theories 1) that it was not what had been asked, 2) that it was of inferior quality, and 3) that the offering was not made with appropriate reverance. However, the biblical source is silent on the issue.

Angry that his offering had been rejected Cain lures Abel into a field and kills him.


The soul of the murdered Abel seeks God's vengence on Cain, who banishes Cain from the land, makes him wander the earth, and denies him the ability to grow crops. Fearing that being alone others might kill him God places a protective mark on him. The biblical source then proceeds to elucidate the birth of Cain's son Enoch, his grandson Irad, and succeeding generations down to Lamech who we are told was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock (Gen 4:20). Some have argued that the Cain and Abel account is actually an origin story to explain the difference between settled and nomadic groups.


The Talmud and Midrash contains a legends that Lamech having become blind in old age was led about by his son Tubal-Cain. One day while hunting Lamech mistakenly kills a man who Tubal-Cain mistakes for an animal. The animal turns out to be Cain and the story of fraticide becomes one of parricide.