Christ and the Woman of Samaria
This capital refers to Chapter 4:1-27 (and presumably also 6:31-35) of John’s Gospel. It abuts onto the cloister’s north-west pillar, not far from the now demolished well-house in the cloister garden.
On the north side, the woman of Samaria is holding the handle and rope of her bucket, which she has rested on the rim of Jacob’s well. Jesus stands before her below the corner volute. He asks her for something to drink and points with his finger to heaven.
On the east side an angel spreads his wings behind Jesus and also points upwards to heaven. Two haloed figures stand to the left of the angel; they presumably represent the apostles who go into the city of Sychar to buy food (Jn 4:8). One of them is carrying a loaf of bread, the other a large sack slung over his shoulder.
On the south side a third apostle is also holding a loaf of bread and, just like the bread-bearer on the east side, is pointing with his finger up to heaven.
The repetition of the motif of the upwards-pointing finger makes it clear that what is expressed above all in this capital is Christ’s contrast between the water from the well that cannot entirely quench man’s thirst and the water of the new covenant that “wells up to eternal life”. The loaves of bread, the food of the apostles and the raised fingers also bring to mind John 6:31, which quotes from Psalm 78: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”