Judith is the main character of the book in the Old Testament that bears her name. The story is of how she saved Israel from destruction by beheading the sleeping Assyrian general, Holofernes (Judith 13:1-10). This stained glass window depicting Judith was produced by the Hardmans firm in 1901 and is found in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of St Antony of Padua, Forest Gate. It shows Judith, dressed in her finery, holding the sword with which she killed Holofernes – and his head in her hand.
Judith is described in the book as a brave, intelligent and beautiful woman. As a result, from the time of the Early Church onwards, she was held up as an example of the virtues of fortitude and chastity. As a faithful woman who helped to bring salvation, she was also considered a forerunner of the Virgin Mary.
For a variety of reasons, many scholars think that the story of Judith is probably an historical novel, rather than straightforward history. A modern-day equivalent would be Les Misérables, a work of fiction that is based on real events.
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Where to find this work of art
St Antony of Padua, Forest Gate
Read the relevant passage
On a similar theme
- From the Old Testament: The story of her dramatic victory is celebrated in The Song of Judith.
- From the New Testament: The Virgin Mary was another widow who played a key role in the history of Israel, with Christ appointing her the mother of all Christians while dying on the cross.