Thursday, February 03, 2011

JHS: The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Giovanni Battista Gaulli called il Baciccia 1639 - 1709
First sketch for the Fresco The Triumph of the Name of Jesus at the Gesù in Rome
Brown ink, brown wash and ink with white highlights on brown paper
42.8cm x 30.5cm
Musée du Louvre département des Arts graphiques, Paris

Giovanni Battista Gaulli called il Baciccia 1639 - 1709
Il Trionfo del nome di Gesù/ The Triumph of the Name of Jesus(1679)
Galleria Spada, Rome

Giovanni Battista Gaulli called il Baciccia 1639 - 1709
Il Trionfo del nome di Gesù/ The Triumph of the Name of Jesus(1679)
The Nave
The Gesù, Rome

The Gesù in Rome is the mother Church of the Society of Jesus in Rome. Its official name is the Chiesa del Santissimo Nome di Gesù all'Argentina (the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

The greatest part of the artwork in the Church is Gaulli`s masterpiece fresco, the "Triumph of the Sacred Name of Jesus" (also known as the Worship, Adoration, or Triumph of the Holy Name of Jesus)

The fresco was unveiled on Christmas Eve, 1679

The official website of the Gesù has in a .pdf file a detailed explanation of the fresco

The monogram of Christ (IHS) is the centre of the work. It is the emblem of the Jesuit order. It was given to the order by its founder, St Ignatius of Loyola. In the fresco it illumines the figures of the saints and blesseds around it. At the outer edges in the darkness are the damned and the Vices of Vanity and Heresy

The emblem is in most images of St Ignatius. The emblem is outside and inside the church. It is in all Jesuit churches. After the Counter-Reformation the Jesuit order spread the christogram throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Names of course are important.

In St Matthew`s Gospel, St Matthew is concerned with the name of Jesus. For Matthew the name and its significance is important. In Matthew 1 20- 25 we learn:

"[A]n angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus" (emphasis added)

The name of Jesus is given by Joseph. Joseph gave Jesus his name and brought him into his family. In this way the genealogy of Matthew is completed and makes sense. Through the action of Joseph in giving Jesus his name, Jesus is a member of the House of David and so the prophecies of the Messiah are fulfilled

Matthew is at pains to tell us what the name of Jesus means: he will save people from their sins

Joseph had the choice to obey the angel or not: to take Mary and the child or not; to name the child or not

Blessed Pope John XXIII had a number of particular devotions: one to St Joseph and the other to the Hoiy Name of Jesus

Of the Holy Name he wrote before the Second Vatican Council to Women Religious (2nd July 1962);

"It would be fitting at this point to recall to you that practice, repeated on many occasions, of the three devotions which We consider fundamental also for the simple faithful of the laity: "Nothing is better for enlightening and encouraging the adoration of Jesus than to meditate upon Him and invoke Him in the threefold light of the Name, the Heart and the Blood"

The Name, the Heart and the Blood of Jesus: this is the substantial nourishment for a sound life of piety.

The Name of Jesus! In reality "nothing is sung more sweetly, nothing heard more joyfully, nothing more gently contemplated than Jesus the Son of God""

And of course we remember that Blessed Pope John XXIII directed that Joseph's name be inserted in the Roman Canon of the Mass after the name of Mary and before the apostles, popes and martyrs