Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mary`s Well

Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka (1853, Kisszeben - 1919, Budapest)
Mary's Well at Nazareth 1908
Oil on canvas, 362 x 515 cm
Janus Pannonius Museum, Pécs

A great Hungarian artist, but sadly affected by schizophrenia.

From 1890 onwards he traveled around the world. He visited Paris, the Mediterraneum (Dalmatia, Italy, Greece), North Africa and the Middle East (Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Syria) and painted pictures. His symbolic paintings of mysterious atmosphere were painted in the Middle East.

He painted his major pictures between 1903 and 1909. Sadly, after 1909, he hardly painted due to amongst other things his medical condition.

Ignored during his lifetime, his reputation ascended after his death. After his death, an entire museum in Pécs, Hungary, was and is devoted to his paintings

His vision of the world is both tormented and idyllic. Picasso saw an exhibition of his work and referred to him as the "other" artistic genius of the 20th century.

Mary's Well is a modern public fountain in Nazareth built over a well that has been in public use since ancient times. It is fed by Mary's Spring, which runs under the altar of the nearby Orthodox Church of St. Gabriel

Although not recorded in the Bible, the tradition of Mary receiving the Annunciation while fetching water is ancient. It is written down in the 2nd-century Christian text known as the Protevangelium of James (or Proto-Gospel of James), which fills out the biblical story of Mary and the birth of Jesus with more details.

The Protevangelium says that Mary was one of seven unblemished virgins from the line of David chosen to weave a new curtain for the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple. She was working on this task in her Nazareth home when she went out to fetch some water from the city well.

"She took the jar and went out to fetch water. Then a voice spoke to her: 'Greetings, you who have received grace. The Lord is with you, you blessed among women.' She looked right and left to see where the voice came from and began to tremble. Then she went back into the house, put the jar aside, sat down, took the purple and began to spin. Then an angel stepped before her..."

The biblical account in Luke 1:26-38 only says that "God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth" and that "the angel went to her." It does not record the place of the Annunciation or what Mary was doing at the time.

Even for those who do not accept the tradition of the Annunciation at the well, Mary's Well is significant as the likely spot at which Mary would have fetched water on a regular basis. When Jesus was a boy, she would have brought him along with her.

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, located a little further up the hill from the current site of Mary's Well, is a Byzantine era church built over the spring , based on the belief that the Annunciation took place at the site.

The Catholic Church believes the Annuciation to have take place less than 0.5km away at the Basilica of the Annunciation, a now modern structure which houses an older church inside of it that dates from the early Christian era.

There is an informative Wikipedia article on the subject of the Well.