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Rubens painted this image of Judah Maccabee praying for the dead; the painting illustrates an episode from 2 Maccabees 12:39–48 in which Judah's troops find stolen idolatrous charms on the corpses of Jewish warriors slain on the battlefield. He therefore offers prayers and an expiatory sacrifice for these warriors who have died in a state of sin. During the Counter-Reformation the passage was used by Catholics against Protestants in order to justify the doctrine of purgatory. Accordingly, Rubens painted the scene for the Chapel of the Dead in Tournai cathedral. Source

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