The essential introduction to the thief who turned to Christ.  

Includes sixty illustrations. 

This book will cause readers to view the Crucifixion in a whole new light 

It asks how we would have reacted had we been present at the Crucifixion. 

“this is a beautiful book, in many senses. Clearly the author has a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm for art history, and the text is lavishly illustrated with a wide range of illustrations of art works from various centuries on the theme of the crucifixion. It is also thoroughly referenced with extensive footnotes to an intriguing range of printed, internet and visual sources…this book offers excellent reading for a quiet day or even half day, a focus for contemplation and prayer, and a springboard for further study. Above all, to read it will deepen your faith, just as encountering Dismas has clearly deepened the faith of the author.”

John Livesey – The Walsingham Review – Candlemas 2021


The events of the Crucifixion continue to fascinate biblical scholars and artists alike. Amongst the drama of that momentous day was a humble request and the reply that it received, an incident that manages to crystallise something of the essence of Christianity.  Dismas – The Penitent Thief: An Introduction seeks to explore what is known of the individual who made that request and discover his story, his significance and how he continues to inspire others, especially those involved in Prison Ministry and outreach programmes. If you have ever been curious and had questions about those who were crucified along with Jesus Christ, well some of the answers are to be found here.  

The Crucifixion (15th century) Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 152v, The Condé Museum, Chantilly, France. Books of Hours of this nature and quality contained images that were intended to be a means of devotion and prayer. Here Dismas can clearly be seen looking earnestly at Christ. 

So often we set great store by the ephemeral yet neglect the eternal. Here is an opportunity to find out how one whose life had fallen well short of the ideal became the focus of supreme love. The story of the Penitent Thief and the Crucifixion poses questions that deserve to be asked and should set us thinking about our own journey of faith.  

Maybe this book will encourage us to look as well as see, cause us to question differently, and hopefully allow us to start to see majesty in the margins. The subject of this book is an individual who is so much more than a bit player in the Crucifixion of Jesus; he is someone who can serve as a reminder that no one is beyond God’s Grace. 

In endeavouring to explore something of the life, death, and legacy of Dismas, this book delves into a range of sources from which we gain a broader understanding of what is known, and what has been lost in the mists of time. Its analysis of the iconography of the Crucifixion will certainly help readers develop a better understanding of various works of art, and hopefully encourage them to view them differently. A character who variously goes by the name of Dismas, Saint Dismas, the Wise and the Good Thief is revealed to have resonated with churches in different ways and who remains a remarkable symbol of hope.  


Quotes from the book

When the Penitent Thief makes his humble request to Jesus to "remember me" (luke 23:42) it is possible to appreciate that here are words with a deep significance, not only for Dismas, but for the whole of mankind.
Since the Middle Ages artistic works portraying the Passion of Christ have usually placed Dismas (The Good Thief) on the dexter (right) side of Jesus and Gestas (The Bad Thief) on the sinister side, that is to the left.
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A sample of the Audiobook read by Ciaran Saward