Triptychs go way back in the history of the Church.
These three-part paintings arose in the East among iconographers and spread with Christianity into the West. Triptychs were made of three wooden panels connected by hinges (hence the Greek name, meaning “tri-fold”).
They usually depicted a sequence of events from Scriptures—such as the Nativity, the Passion, and the Resurrection—or a group of saints praying at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Mother. Their three-in-one construction pointed to the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Early Christians valued the compact, concealable size of the small versions of these folded wooden paintings and carried them in their pockets as devotionals. The hinged side panels could close to protect the central painting of Our Lord or the Blessed Mother from getting dirty or worn away.
Triptychs reached their peak in the Middle Ages. They became widely popular as altarpieces and were sometimes painted on the back as well as the front. Middle-class or wealthy families often commissioned a triptych for use as a devotional in their own home.
Nowadays, you don’t have to search for a good painter to get a triptych for your home—you can get one right here at The Catholic Company! Our Crucifixion Triptych reproduces the delicate strokes of Pietro Perugino’s Crucifixion with the Virgin. Gold-accented, foldable, and a pleasing medium size, this triptych will be a beloved centerpiece on your home altar. Available today at The Catholic Company!