Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Holy Family

François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
La Sainte Famille (The Holy Family)
Oil on canvas
224 x 160 cm
Musée Fabre, Montpellier

In France, religious paintings were still rare in the early nineteenth after the revolutionary turmoil. 

Fabre stayed away from Paris 

The circle in which he moved in Florence included  the Countess of Albany widow of the last of the Stuarts 

He was a pupil of David

Fabre was a classicist  and not a Romantic

Here from an earlier time in French neo-Classicism is the same theme this time by François-Guillaume Ménageot (1744-1816)

François-Guillaume Ménageot (1744-1816)
Le Repos de la Sainte Famille en Egypte avec saint Jean-Baptiste enfant (The rest of the Holy Family in Egypt with the Infant St John the Baptist)
Oil on canvas
149 x 96 cm
Galerie Michel Descours, Lyon

In this Adoration of the Magi by Vignon from a earlier era of French painting, one half of the work is taken up by the Holy Family

Claude Vignon (1593-1670)
L’Adoration des mages (Adoration of the Magi)
Oil on canvas
165 x 262 cm
Eglise de Saint-Gervais-saint-Protais, Paris

The emphasis on the example of The Holy Family in religious art is not new. It is a profound image which goes to the heart of Christian teaching

Recently the Instrumentum Laboris for the forthcoming Synod of Bishops said this:

"The Holy Family of Nazareth and Learning to Love 
36. A recurring subject in almost all the responses is the importance of the Holy Family of Nazareth as the model and example for the Christian family. The mystery of the Word of God’s becoming incarnate within a family reveals how it is the privileged place for God’s revelation to humanity. In fact, the family is acknowledged to be the ordinary and everyday place to encounter Christ. The Christian people look to the Holy Family of Nazareth as a model in relationships and love, as a point of reference for every family and as a comfort in time of trial. The Church invokes the Holy Family of Nazareth, entrusting all families, in their moments of joy, hope and sorrow, to the care of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
37. The responses highlight the importance of love in the family, referring to it as “an efficacious sign of the existence of God's Love” and calling the family itself “the sanctuary of life and love.” The initial experience of love and human relationships takes place within the family. Every child needs to live in the warmth and protective care of loving parents in a home where peace abides. Children must be able to see that Jesus is always with them and that they are never alone. Because of an obvious weakening in family ties, particularly in some parts of the world, children experience loneliness. Even when children need correction, it should be done so as to ensure that they grow in a familial atmosphere of love and that parents might realize their vocation to be God's collaborators in the development of the human family. 
38. Considerable emphasis is placed on the formative value of love in the family for not only children but all its members. As such, the family is a “school of love,” a “school of communion,” and a “gymnasium for relationships,” that is, the privileged place to learn to build meaningful relationships which help a person develop a capacity for giving one’s self. Some of the responses suggest that a relation might exists between the knowledge of the mystery and vocation of the human person and the acknowledgment and acceptance of each’s unique gifts and abilities within the family. In this sense, the family can be considered as the “basic school of humanity,” and thus regarded as irreplaceable."

The Instrumentum also spoke of the family as an Image of Trinitarian Love. The Holy Family is likewise such an image. The Instrumentum said:
"35. A number of responses focuses on the image of the Trinity reflected in the family. The experience of the mutual love between the spouses is an assistance in understanding the life of the Trinity as love. Through a communion lived in the family, children can glimpse an image of the Trinity. 
Recently, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his catechesis on the sacraments, recalled that “when a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony God as it were ‘is mirrored’ in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is communion too: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of Matrimony: God makes of the two spouses one single life” (General Audience, 2 April 2014)."

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