Friday, April 22, 2011

Dominicans: At the Foot of the Cross

The Dominican History blog has a very good post on the famous painting by Flemish painter Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596-1675), "Christ on the Cross Adored by Eight Saints of the Dominican Order". It is truly a masterpiece of art. The painting is presently housed at the Louvre in Paris. From the museum website:
"This grisaille work was a model for an engraving by Adriaen Lommelin (c. 1616-after 1673). It is dated 1652 and dedicated to the newly appointed bishop of Ypres, the Dominican Ambrosius Capello. The saints represent the qualities a bishop should aspire to: doctrinal wisdom, Marian devotion, courage, rectitude, zeal in pastoral work and in preaching, charity, and intelligence - all under the sign of the cross, Verbum Crucis...

Dominican iconography

The identity of each saint is indicated by his or her attributes. Each illustrates a particular quality that should inspire Capello in his ministry. Saint Thomas Aquinas, representing doctrinal wisdom, is about to begin writing, directly inspired by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Saint Hyacinth of Krakow, representing Marian devotion, is pointing at a statue of the Virgin. Saint Peter of Verona, tortured with daggers and cutlasses, represents courage. Saint Catherine of Siena, wearing a crown of thorns and bearing the stigmata, is the image of pure devotion. Saint Dominic, carrying a Marian lily, represents zeal in pastoral work. His name, domini canis, the Lord's dog, explains the presence of the black-and-white dog at his feet. Saint Vincent Ferrer's zeal in preaching is evident as he points towards Heaven to remind us of the Last Judgment, while the little child is an allusion to one of the miraculous cures he effected. The elderly Saint Raymond of Peñafort, the theologian of the sacrament of penitence, is the symbol of vigilance and rectitude. Finally, Saint Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, symbolizes just intelligence and charity. His scales are tipped towards the paper bearing the words Deo Gratias (legible only on the engraving), which are thus heavier than the fruit offered to the saint by a peasant in the hoping of winning his good favor."
Read more at Dominican History and the Louvre website.

His blood be upon us and upon our children

Eric Sammons has an excellent post regarding the Holy Father's reflections on these infamous words "His blood be upon us and upon our children":
One of the most profound insights from Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week is his meditation on the words of the crowd when they condemned Jesus to crucifixion: “His blood be upon us and upon our children” (Matthew 27:25). This passage has famously been used throughout history to condemn the Jewish race for the crime of deicide, but Benedict sees something far deeper at work here. Unlike the blood of other innocent men, it does not condemn, it redeems. The truth is that we all have his blood on upon us, for every time we sin, we crucify our Lord. But this is the blood of mercy, which cleanses us of our sins. This is the blood which Christ tells us we must drink or we do not have eternal life. This is the life-giving blood which pours out from the pierced side of Christ and forms the Church. This is the blood which is our salvation.

May it be upon us and upon our children.

Holy (Maundy) Thursday in Rome

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sulpicia, Ancient Roman Poetess

We don't hear a lot about the female Roman poets. However, for our literary education, the Latin Blog introduces us to the ancient poetess Sulpicia and to one of her poems, shown here:
inuisus natalis adest, qui rure molesto
(Birthday is here, I hate it.)

et sine Cerintho tristis agendus erit
(It will be melancholy without Cerinthus)

dulcius urbe quid est?
(What is sweeter than a city?)

an uilla sit apta puellae atque Arretino frigidus amnis agro?
(Is a farmhouse on a cold stream on the Arretine what a girl needs?)

iam, nimium Messalla mei studiose, quiescas;
(Now Messala, you’re too anxious about me, rest a bit)

non tempestiuae saepe, propinque, uiae
(Your excursions are often ill timed)

hic animum, sensusque meos, abducta relinquo,
(This is where I relinquish my heart, feelings; snatched away)

arbitrio quam uis non sinit esse meo.
(It won’t let me act as I wish)
It seems... well... no comment. The translation seems a little sharp to me. I understand that only six of her poems can be found today. You can read them here. Interestingly, the omnipotent Wikipedia speaks of two women poets named Sulpicia.

Fire by suspected arsonist at Sagrada Familia

According to the Telegraph (UK)
Four people were treated for smoke inhalation, according to Catalan regional police, who added that around 1,500 people had been evacuated from architect Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece.

The towering basilica is one of the top draws in Spain's second-largest city and in all of Spain, receiving more than two million visitors a year.

The official said some tourists saw smoke coming from inside the sacristy and alerted authorities, and the suspected arsonist was arrested.
Thomas Peters adds further:
The damage tally at this point is:

- smoke damage/smell throughout the entire building but particularly in the crypt
- all of the vestments and furniture in the sacristy destroyed (none by Gaudi)
- walls of the sacristy have been blackened
- speculation that all or part of the basilica’s electrical system will have to be replaced due to smoke damage.
Fortunately, it looks like nobody was hurt badly. There seems to be an uptick of anti-religious fervor in Spain as there have been many other reports of church vandalism. The pope is going to Madrid this summer for World Youth Day. It will be interesting to see what happens then. Having had the opportunity to visit beautiful Spain last year, it was awesome to experience its rich tapestry of religious history.


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