The emblem of Past in Present is taken from the 1313 seal of the Utrecht Dom church. St Martin, the patron saint of Utrecht, is pictured as tall as the beggar. They are facing one another. The image expresses the equality and mutual respect between the beggar and the saint. We recognize Jesus in the beggar, from his build, his curls and above all his right hand, which is lifted in a blessing. This is a depiction of Matt. 25:40: ‘Whatever you have given to the least of my brothers, you have given unto me.’
This notion of reciprocity gradually faded. In later seals – from 1340 to c. 1550 – the scene becomes increasingly dominated by St. Martin. He is transformed into the grand benefactor, while the beggar shows the signs of a poor, degraded man: humble, famished and limp, and gradually fading into the margins. This development reflects the loosening up of evangelical awareness and social traditions, due to all-encompassing political, economic, cultural and religious changes.
Solidarity, sharing and mutual respect are now back on the social-political agenda, as the unequal distribution of wealth and resources is causing ever greater tensions.