Jan Joest van Kalkar (c. 1450 - 1519)
1505 - 1508
Oil on wood
41 x 28 1/4 inches
St. Nicholai's Church (Katholische Pfarrkirche Sankt Nikolai), Kalkar Kreis Kleve
The High Altar is shown below. The panels surround the central work of the Passion of Christ
The New Testament (and the Old Testament) are filled with references to the Holy Spirit and the coming of it. Pentecost is not a one-off event or appearance by the Holy Spirit.
Christ said to his disciples, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19)
At the Last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever" (Jn 14: 15-16).
Again he said before the Ascension, "It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send Him to you" (1 John 16, 7).
And yet again he said, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; but when He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He will teach you all truth" (John 16, 12-13).
After his death and Resurrection but before the Ascension, he said to the disciples, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound" (Jn 20: 23).
In his first discourse on Pentecost Day, Peter said of Christ that "being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2:33; cf. also 5:31).
Mary is the centre of the composition in the panel by Jan Joest van Kalkar. She had a prior encounter with the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation. Through her concsent and self-giving, the Incarnation was accomplished. This was the historic event in the History of Mankind which Blessed Pope John Paul II described as when "human time was filled with eternity."
Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical on the Holy Spirit Divinum Illud Munus (9th May 1897) said of this:
" Among the external operations of God, the highest of all is the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, in which the splendour of the divine perfections shines forth so brightly that nothing more sublime can even be imagined, nothing else could have been more salutary to the human race.
Now this work, although belonging to the whole Trinity, is still appropriated especially to the Holy Ghost, so that the Gospels thus speak of the Blessed Virgin: "She was found with child of the Holy Ghost," and "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. i., 18, 20)."
Through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit all things are possible
Therefore in memory of the coming of the Holy Spirit and its infusions and gifts, the Church prays:
"Come, Father of the poor!Come, Giver of gifts!Come, Light of our hearts!O, best of Consolers,Sweet Guest of the soul, our refreshment!"(Veni Sancte Spiritus).