Thursday, July 31, 2008

La Virgen María

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida 1863 - 1923
La Virgen María 1885 – 1887
Oil on canvas 93.7 x 62.6 cm
Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia, Spain

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorolla y Bastida

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1863-1923
Kissing the Relic 1893
Oil on canvas
103.5 x 122.5cm
Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao

A procession of faithful is reverently awaiting to kiss the relic held by the parish priest in a side chapel of the San Pablo church in Valencia. It is also the opportunity taken by an altar boy to sell religious pictures

His early works portrayed scenes with social and sometimes religious themes.

A trip to Paris in 1894 put him in contact with impressionist painting, which led to a real revolution in his style.

Sorolla has influenced many painters including Jimmy Dyer, Dan McCaw, and the Valencian painter Royo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christian Schad

Christian Schad (August 21, 1894 - February 25, 1982
Pope Pius XI, 1925
Oil on canvas 75 x 53,5 cm
Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg, Halle

Christian Schad, (August 21, 1894 - February 25, 1982)
Pater Aquilinus, 1925,
Oil on canvas
CSS Aschaffenburg

It is apparently part of the job description for "Pope" that one has to sit for one`s portrait.

Pope Pius XI sat for the painter Christian Schad (see above) in 1925.

It became quite a famous portrait. The artist procured a lucrative reproduction deal for the portrait with a publishing company in Berlin.

He secured the commission through a German Franciscan priest, Father Aquilin Reichert (Father Aquilinus) (also painted by Schad and pictured above). Father Aquilinus was a confessor to many Germans in Rome and the Vatican.

There is no doubt about the talent of Schad. However he is a rather unattractive character.

He was Bavarian and born into a well-to-do family. His father - a lawyer - supported him well into the Depression years.

After a short training at the Academy of Art in Munich in 1913, he avoided the draft by fleeing to Switzerland. Artistically he joined the Dadaist Movement.

After the defeat of Germany in 1918, he spent time in Italy. Life there was preferable to the hyper-inflation of the early Weimar Republic.

For a time there was a period of stability. In 1923, in the cathedral of Orvieto, he married Marcella Arcangeli, a medical professor's daughter, and the next year had a son, Nikolaus.

This was the period of his study of the Old Masters and the paintings above.

The stability did not last. In 1926 he went to Austria, then left his family to move to Berlin. Then came the years of painting the decadence of Weimar, before the rise of Hitler.

There he became part of the loose movement known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), in particular, a branch known as Verism. Looking soberly, cynically, and even ferociously at their fellow citizens, these artists found their true métier in portraiture. The movement was marked by a loss of modernist faith, a rise in nationalism and an embrace of tried and true artistic traditions.

The Movement embraced other artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and Georg Grosz who seem to have been motivated by some kind of social philosophy. In contrast, Schad`s paintings are of the demi-monde, sexual freedom, and portraits of dour characters, debauched and filled with ennui.

They are works caught by a passive observer, remote and distant from the action that it portrays. There is understanding. But empathy, there is none.

Whilst other artists in the Movement such as Dix were labelled by the Hitler regime as "degenerate", Hitler seemed to approve of Schad. He did not include his works in the infamous exhibition of Degenerate Art in 1937 and Schad`s works were included in the 1937 exhibition of great German art in Munich.

After the Second World War, Schad`a reputation declined. There are occasional shows showing interest in him is starting to wax again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Grave of St Paul

The Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura (9th century)

The Gifford Lectures were established by Adam Lord Gifford (1820–1887), a senator of the College of Justice in Scotland.

The purpose of Lord Gifford's bequest to the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Aberdeen was to sponsor lectures to “promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term—in other words, the knowledge of God”.

In 1899-1901 the Lectures were delivered by Rodolfo Amadeo Lanciani

His lectures were entitled New Tales of Old Rome 1899–1901

Lanciani was Professor of Ancient Topography, University of Rome

Lanciani was a pioneer, one of the four founders of a rational, modern approach to Roman cartography and archaeology

In his fourth lecture, he considered the truth about the grave of St. Paul. It is perhaps topical in this Year of St Paul.

It is entitled The Truth About the Grave of St. Paul—The Basilica Paulli in the Forum, and the Basilica Pauli Apostoli on the Road to Ostia.

"To come back to the grave of St. Paul: tradition says that his body was claimed from the executioner by the inevitable matron Lucina1 and laid to rest in certain catacombs which the pious lady owned on the left or east side of the Via Ostiensis, back of the apse of the present church, where the sandstone cliffs of the Vigna Salviucci rise to the height of forty-two metres above the valley of the Tiber.

Here the sacred remains rested in peace until the persecution of Valerian (253–260), when Christian cemeteries were confiscated for the first time. After a temporary removal to the so-called Platonia near the present church of St. Sebastian, they were once more deposited in the original grave, in the rock-cut catacombs of Lucina.

I have already explained that, when memorial churches were raised over and around the tombs of martyrs, after the peace of the church, the tombs themselves were never touched, altered, removed, raised, or sunk. If the rock in the heart of which the catacombs were excavated stood in the way, and made it impossible to give the memorial building the required form in length, in breadth, and in height, the rock was cut away.

This was done in accordance with two rules: first, that the tomb of the hero should occupy the place of honor in the centre of the apse; secondly, that the body of the church should extend east of the tomb.

Applying these principles to the case of St. Paul, it was generally admitted that Constantine the Great had cut away the spur of rock containing the catacombs of Lucina, leaving only the grave of the Apostle in situ. The Liber Pontificalis adds that the grave was encased by the same emperor in a strong room or cella, made of solid sheets of bronze, five feet long, five broad, five high. The belief in this state of things, viz., that St. Paul was actually buried in a rock-cut catacomb, was so firmly rooted among Christian archæologists that in 1867 Monsignor Francis Xavier de Merode, the pugnacious minister of war of Pius IX., and a great lover of Christian antiquities, purchased the Vigna Salviucci—where the rock stands—with the view of making clear the connection between the catacombs and the present grave.

Several Christian crypts were, to be sure, discovered in the Vigna Salviucci and in its neighborhood, which de Rossi identified with those of Timotheus, Felix and Adauctus, and Commodilla, mentioned in the earliest pilgrim-books, but no trace of the alleged catacombs of Lucina was found, or has been found since. The solution of the problem has been obtained within the last few months in the following way.

The scheme for the sanitation and drainage of Rome, which has been carried into execution at a great cost since 1870, involves the construction of two main sewers about ten miles long, one on the right bank of the Tiber running parallel with the Via Campana and emptying into the river at la Magliana, one on the left bank running parallel with the Via Ostiensis and joining the Tiber at Torre di Valle.

This last leaves the City at the western end of the Protestant cemetery by the pyramid of Caius Cestius, crosses the road to Ostia a thousand yards outside the gate, and runs between the apse of St. Paul's and the rock where the apocryphal catacombs of Lucina were said to be, cutting the disputed ground at the depth of thirty-four feet. Such a deep excavation, so near the grave of the Apostle, was expected to give us the solution of the many problems connected, with it. However, before giving the account of what has been found and of the results obtained, I must bring back to the memory of the reader the discoveries made before the present day.

The marble casing of the grave of the Apostle was seen for the first time on July 28, 1838, when the altar above it, injured by the fire of July 15, 1823, was demolished to make room for the present one. A marble floor was discovered composed of four slabs, on which the dedication
PAVLO APOSTOLO MART(yri)is engraved in large letters of the time of Constantine. The slabs and their precious inscription were left visible under the new canopy, and I have myself had the privilege of studying them at leisure (on December 1, 1891), by lowering myself on hands and knees through the “fenestella confessionis.”

Two things we must bear in mind: first, that the slabs inscribed with the name of Paul are not in their original position, but appear to have been replaced over the grave most negligently, in a slanting direction; secondly, that the inscription is mutilated at the right end, the last three letters of the word MART(yri) being missing.

Other discoveries took place in 1850, when Pius IX. was laying the foundations of the new canopy; they are of paramount interest for the question we are investigating.

It was then ascertained that Paul's grave stands on the margin of an old road, paved with blocks of lava, amidst other tombs of purely pagan type. According to the evidence of an eye-witness, Father Paul Zelly, who was then abbot of St. Paul's, the old road runs at a distance of fifteen feet west of the grave, and at an angle of about 14° with the Via Ostiensis, into which it runs lower down. Besides the Apostle's grave there were the remains of a columbaria or square sepulchral chamber with pigeonholes for cinerary urns.

This tomb was found almost intact, but it seems that no attention was paid to it, no drawings taken, and no copies made of the inscriptions which probably accompanied each pigeonhole. I have lately come into possession of some notes, taken at the time of these finds by Vespignani the elder, who acted as assistant to Luigi Poletti, the rebuilder of St. Paul's, but they are of no special importance. The objects put aside “nel cavo della seconda confessione in settembre 1850”were the tombstones of a C. Julius Berullus and of a Priscilla, both preceded by the invocation Diis Manibus; two Christian ones, several brick stamps from the kilns of Faustina the elder, and one from the Officina Fauriana.

They do not throw much light on the question; and yet we are sure that if proper attention had been paid to these excavations, and a more careful search made among lined that bit of road, we should now know the name of the personage who had given the first disciples of Christ in Rome the permission to bury St. Paul in his own family burial-plot.

The cutting for the main sewer has revealed the following facts.

First, there is no connection whatever between the grave of St. Paul and the many Christian catacombs with which the rock of the Vigna Salviucci is honeycombed.

Secondly, these catacombs belong at all events to a much later period than the apostolic age. Boldetti claims to have read in one of them the date of the year 107, marked with the consulship of Sura and Senecio, and that of the year 111, marked with the consulship of Piso and Bolanus. These are certainly the oldest dates ever discovered in Roman catacombs; but even granted that Boldetti has made no mistake, they are at all events forty years more recent than the execution of St. Paul.

Thirdly, the whole neighbourhood, from the foot of the rock to the middle of the fields in which the basilica stands, is thickly covered with pagan tombs of the first and second centuries. In the space of a few weeks not less than 183 of them have been discovered in the cutting of the drain alone.

Fourthly, these tombs are placed and oriented on the lines of two Roman roads; namely, the Via Ostiensis—which fits exactly into the modern one—and a branch road which connects the towpath on the left bank of the Tiber with the same Via Ostiensis. To this branch road belongs the pavement discovered in 1850 in the foundations of the canopy.

In the fifth place, the person who claimed the body of the Apostle after the execution, be it the matron Lucina or not, owned not a catacomb, but a burial-plot in the open— “sub diu”—in the angle formed by the junction of the two roads. Here, nearer to the side lane than to the main road, a tomb was raised to St. Paul. We do not know of what nature, size, shape, the tomb was; whether it bore an inscription or not. If we are to believe the Liber Pontificalis, the authority of which after the recent edition of Duchesne is above suspicion, the grave itself must have been small. “Eodem tempore fecit Constantinus basilicam beato Paulo Apostolo? cuius corpus ita recondit in ære, et conclusit sicut Beati Petri.” Now the case of solid metal, inside of which Constantine sealed the body of St. Peter, was five feet long, five wide, five high. Five Roman feet equal 1.478 metres. The mean height of the human body being 1.58, the case appears too small. It is impossible to think that the body of Paul was incinerated, and the ashes preserved in a cinerary urn; and even granted that he was of a stature below the average, the coffin in which he was laid to rest would certainly have exceeded the measure of five feet. I agree with Stevenson that the figures have been altered by the carelessness of early copyists of the Liber Pontificalis.

Another explanation offered for the short measure of the case is that the Apostle having been beheaded, the head may not necessarily have been placed in its right position. If I remember rightly, twice tombs of beheaded men have been discovered since the revival of classic studies: one at Cuma, one in the Vatican district, when Pope Paul III. was digging for the foundations of the Bastione di Belvedere. This bastion occupies part of the site of the ancient cemetery of the Via Triumphalis. Among the many tombs and columbaria discovered on that occasion, one belonged to a decapitated person. Ligorio describes the find in the following words (“Bodleian,” p. 139):
“There was also a sepulchral chamber decorated with stucco reliefs and paintings, in which a walnut cut out of an agate was discovered;…it was lying near a skeleton which had the skull not in its proper place, but across the legs; and where the skull should have been, there lay a perfect and beautiful plaster mould of the head of the buried man. This plaster mould was removed to the private collection of the Pope.”

In the sixth place, it has been ascertained that the mean level of the tombs which line the two roads is eleven feet lower than the level of the modern road, and about nine feet below that of the nave and aisles of the church.

Comparing these data with the finds of 1850, Stevenson comes to the conclusion that the grave itself must lie about twelve feet and six inches below the floor of the transept, and only eleven feet above the mean level of the Tiber, which runs close by. Now it is a known fact that the Tiber reaches that height fifteen times a year at least, not to speak of extraordinary inundations, like the one of 1870, in the course of which the waters rose twenty-six feet above the level of the grave. We may safely conclude, therefore, that the Apostle was buried in a low, damp, almost swampy field, permanently exposed to the overflow of the river, unless precautions had been taken to keep the waters off by means of levees and embankments and sluices, of which we know absolutely nothing. The metal case of Constantine may have saved the grave from the inflow of water after the erection of the church.

Has the venerable grave come down to us intact since the time of Constantine?

The question is more easily put than answered. The church, to be sure, went safely through the barbaric invasions, being considered an inviolable asylum even by the Goths and the Vandals. Of this fact we have the evidence in Epistles 54 and 127 of St. Jerome, where he describes the fate of Marcella, the founder of monastic life in Rome.
“This noble matron was left a widow after seven months of marriage, and being pressed by the Consul Cerealis to marry again, determined to sever all connection with the world for the rest of her life. Following the rule of St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, she dressed herself in simple garb, gave up the use of wine and meat, and divided her time between the study of the Scriptures, prayers, and pilgrimages to the tombs of apostles and martyrs. St. Jerome became Marcella's spiritual adviser; such was the serenity and beauty of her character that in one of her letters she is addressed as ‘the pride of Roman matrons.’ However, when Rome became the prey of the Goths, the barbarians broke into her peaceful retreat and tortured her in an attempt to discover the secret hiding-place of her treasures,—treasures that she had long before given up to the needy. Fearing more for the safety of Principia, whom she had adopted as a spiritual daughter, than for her own life, she threw herself at the feet of the Gothic chieftain and begged to be conducted to the church of St. Paul outside the walls, which, like St. Peter's, had been set apart by Alaric as a refuge for women and children”

The Saracenic invasion of 846 makes, however, an exception to the rule. It would be impossible to discuss within the limits of the present chapter all the arguments brought forward to prove or disprove the profanation of the tombs of Peter and Paul in 846. Leaving aside the question of Peter, of which I have spoken at length in “Pagan and Christian Rome,” p. 148, and in “The Destruction of Ancient Rome,” p. 131, there is unfortunately no doubt that the infidels plundered at their leisure the Basilica of St. Paul, and laid their hands on the venerable tomb. We find the evidence of this fact in chapter xxii. of the Life of Benedict III., in Duchesne's edition of the Liber Pontificalis, vol. ii. p. 145: SEPULCHRUM [Pauli Apostoli] QUOD A SARRACENIS DESTRUCTUM FUERAT PERORNAVIT!
The question is, what did the Saracens actually destroy,—the altar erected high above the grave, the canopy or ciborium which covered the altar, or the grave itself? I believe that the expression of the Liber Pontificalis is not to be taken in too literal a sense; for why should Benedict III. have restored and redecorated the group formed by the grave, the altar, and the canopy, if the grave itself had been profaned and its contents scattered to the four winds? And besides, we know that the word DESTRUCTUM, “destroyed,” is an exaggeration; because the marble slab with the epitaph PAVLO APOSTOLO MART(yri) is still in existence, and it is the original of Constantine's time, not a copy made by Benedict III.

The tomb incurred another risk in the sack of 1527, when the scum of the soldiery from Spain, Germany, and northern Italy pillaged the City and its sacred edifices for the space of several weeks. L. Mayerhofer, in the “Historisches Jahrbuch,” 1891, p. 721, has published a letter written by an eye-witness, a clerk from Speyer named Theodoric Vafer—alias Gescheid, and dated June 17 of that eventful year, in which he expressly says:
“We have (or they have) profaned all the churches of Rome; men and women have been slain over the altar of St. Peter's; the tomb or coffin inside which the remains of Peter and Paul had been laid to rest has been broken open, and the relics dispersed” (Urnam sive tumbarn, in qua requiescebant ossa S. Petri et Pauli effregerunt et ipsas reliquias profanarunt).

One thing is certain, however: none of the many hundred published or unpublished accounts of the sack of 1527, consulted by Gregorovius, Grisar, Orano, and other specialists, mention this incident, which, considering the extraordinary devotion of the Romans to the founders of the church, would have caused them greater grief than all the horrors, massacres, tortures they endured in those days.

Briefly my opinion is this: The grave of St. Paul has come down to us, most likely, as it was left by Constantine the Great, enclosed in a metal case. The Saracens of 846 damaged the outside marble casing and the marble epitaph, but did not reach the grave. As to the nature of the grave itself, its shape, its aspect, its contents, I am afraid our curiosity will never be satisfied.

This most fascinating of Roman churches is closely connected with England and especially dear to the Anglo-Saxon race. As the emperor of Austria was the protector of St. Peter's, the king of France of St. John Lateran, the king of Spain of S. Maria Maggiore, so the kings of England were the defenders of St. Paul outside the walls. In the shield of the abbot, above the gate of the adjoining cloisters, we still behold the arm grasping the sword, and the ribbon of the Garter with the motto: “Honi soit qui mal y pense!” "

Sunday, July 27, 2008

El Cristo de la sangre

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta (July 26, 1870 - October 31, 1945)
Bleeding Christ; or Blood Christ (El Cristo de la sangre, También conocida como; La Hermandad de Cristo Crucificado) 1911
Oil on canvas 248 x 302 cm.
Museo Reina Sofía. Madrid

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pius XII: A Small Step ?

As is well known, Rutgers School of Law publish a distinguished journal on Law and Religion: The Journal of Law and Religion

They published an article by Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni, H.E.D. (Volume 3.2.8)entitled PIUS XII AND THE JEWS::The War Years – as Reported by the New York Times (.pdf file)

The article reports what the New York Times reported and commented upon concerning Pope Pius XII.

It successfully refutes the commonly held belief, propagated first by the communist party near the end World War II and popularized since the 1963 production of Rolf Hochuth’s play, “The Deputy,” that Pope Pius XII dropped the ball, and that the Church did little to stop, even though it did not actively support, the genocide committed by the Fuhrer and the Duce.

The article concludes that The New York Times provides a very different view. It reported that Popes Pius XI and XII repeatedly spoke out against the racist policies of the totalitarian governments and that they both worked to save thousands of Jews from extermination.

The article demonstrates that the Pope’s outspokenness is established simply by looking at articles in the New York Times during the same period. The Times reported that the Pope was not silent, often applauding him for what he did do and say, and the Church was quite active during the War.

The Times also reported that numerous synagogues in New York City expressed gratitude for the Pope’s efforts during World War II.

As seen in the news reports and editorials printed in the New York Times during the War years, contemporary evidence shows that everyone knew the Pope was speaking about the Jews in his numerous condemnations of Nazi policies. It was clear the Pope was speaking about their situation and trials even though he spoke in religious terms and from a higher moral level rather than merely condemning individual actions. Yet his condemnations were clear, and his contemporaries understood them.
The article concludes:

"Pius XII did strongly and clearly condemn the Nazi and Fascist government extermination of the European Jewish community; but he had only words and prayers in his armory. Neither words nor prayers moved Hitler; he respected only guns and armies. Only Hitler and the Allied forces could stop the killing. Hitler refused; the Allies arrived too late."

China, the Olympics and Freedom of Religion

The Spring 2008 edition of Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion also has an interesting article by Jennifer L. Zegel on the present state of the persecution of religion in China, and the forthcoming Olympics in Beijing.

It provides useful information on China’s role in the financial backing of the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta 1870-1945
The Cardinal 1912 (El Cardenal)
Oil on canvas 201 x 136cm
Museum of Fine Art, Bilbao (Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao)

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta 1870-1945
The Anchorite 1907 (L'anachorète, Un ascète)
Oil on canvas 118 x 115cm
Musée d'Orsay , Paris

The artist was held to be by international art critics of the early 20th century as one of the finest painters of the time. But, in Spain, Zuloaga was accused of exalting the country’s perceived backwardness

Velázquez, who he would consider his teacher, together with Zurbarán, Ribera and Goya were his main influences.

He was a painter of genre, portraits, nudes and landscapes

He was born in Eibar, in the Basque country, near the monastery of Loyola.

For a while he lived in Paris and was on friendly terms with Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Rodin, Mallarme and the Spanish painter Rusifiol.

In The Cardinal, we see a cardinal attired in sixteenth century brocaded silk. His features are worn and granite-like. Genoese velvet covers the table. A rich carpet covers the floor. In the background is a vista of a dry and parched landscape of around Segovia. Behind the cardinal stands a Christ like figure. The figure has an element of despair. In its time, the picture was famous. It was regarded as a critical comment on the Church in Spain at that time.

For a time, the picture could not be exhibited in Spain.

The portrait does remind one of Goya`s Cardinal Nino de Guevara

Leniency shown to GP over suicide a ‘sign of progress’

Glasgow GP Dr Iain Kerr received a six-month suspension from the GMC (the disciplinary body for doctors in the United Kingdom) over giving sleeping pills to a pensioner so she could kill herself

According to The Herald the decision has been greeted by proponents of assisted suicide as "a sign of progress"

"The decision not to strike a Scottish doctor from the medical register after he prescribed pills to a patient so she could end her life was greeted as a sign of progress by campaigners.

Jeremy Purvis, the Liberal Democrat MSP who proposed a bill allowing assisted suicide in Scotland, said yesterday he believed in the past a doctor in a similar situation could have been struck off by the General Medical Council and could face prosecution.

"It may well be that there is a quiet progression towards a change of practice," he said.

However, he added that it should not be left to prosecutors and the GMC to make "what is effectively case law".

Last week The Herald revealed Glasgow GP Dr Iain Kerr received a six-month suspension over giving sleeping pills to a pensioner so she could kill herself .

MSP Margo MacDonald, who is in favour of allowing doctors to help the terminally ill to die, said she took "a little bit of hope" from the judgment"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mary: Queen

Enguerrand Quarton 1410-1466
Coronation of the Virgin (1453-54)
Tempera on canvas
183 x 220 cm
Hospital Museum, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

The painting was commissioned by a local clergyman, Jean de Montagny for the monastery Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon where it still is.

The contract for the Coronation specified the unusual representation of the Father and Son of the Holy Trinity as identical figures

The depiction of Rome (left) and Jerusalem (right) in the panoramic landscape below is also specified in the contract. The donor had been on a pilgrimage that included both cities.

Beneath this Purgatory (left) and Hell (right) open up, and in the centre the donor kneels before a Crucifixion.

On the extreme left a church is shown in "cut-away" style, containing a Mass of Saint Gregory

The landscape background depicts the Provençal landscape in a style derived from Italian painting. The figures are more influenced by Netherlandish artists

The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a popular theme in Christian art.

Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, places a crown on the head of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

On 11th October 1954, Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam established the feast of the Queenship of Mary. (31st May)

He rehearsed the long pedigree of the title in the works of the early Christian fathers to the present day.

He went on to say:

"[A]rt which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan.

Iconography, in representing the royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has ever been enriched with works of highest artistic value and greatest beauty; it has even taken the form of representing colorfully the divine Redeemer crowning His mother with a resplendent diadem."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mary: To the Ends of the Earth

Madonna and Child at the Shrine

The Shrine of St Mary de finibus terrae.

Puglia (Apulia) is a region in southeastern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south.

Its southern portion known as Salento, a peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy.

It neighbours Greece and Albania, across the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, respectively

In the southern part of the region, dialects of the Sicilian language called Tarantino and Salentino are spoken. In isolated pockets of the Southern part of Salento, a dialect of modern Greek called Griko, is spoken by just a few thousand people.

Marian devotion is very strong in the area.

The Pope gave a Homily on Saturday 14th June 2008 on the Square in the Front of the Shrine of St Mary de finibus terrae in Santa Maria di Leuca, in Puglia.

The full Homily devoted to Mary and St Peter is here.

"My Visit in Apulia, ... begins as a Marian pilgrimage, on this extreme tip of Italy and Europe, at the Shrine of St Mary de finibus terrae.

In this place, so important historically for devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I wanted the liturgy to be dedicated to her, Star of the Sea and Star of Hope.

"Ave, maris stella, / Dei Mater alma, / atque semper virgo, / felix caeli porta!".

The words of this ancient hymn are a greeting which in some way echoes that of the Angel at Nazareth.

All Marian titles, in fact, have as it were budded and blossomed from that first name with which the heavenly messenger addressed the Virgin: "Hail, full of grace" (Lk 1: 28). ...

"De finibus terrae": the name of this holy place is very beautiful and evocative because it re-echoes one of Jesus' last words to his disciples.

Jutting out between Europe and the Mediterranean, between the West and the East, it reminds us that the Church has no boundaries, she is universal. And geographical, cultural, ethnic, and even religious frontiers are an invitation to the Church to evangelize with a view to "communion in diversity".

The Church was born at Pentecost, she was born universal and her vocation is to speak all the world's languages. The Church exists, according to her original vocation and mission that were revealed to Abraham, to be a blessing to benefit all the peoples of the earth (cf. Gn 12: 1-3); to be, in the language of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, a sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1).

The Church in Apulia possesses a marked vocation to be a bridge between peoples and cultures. This land and this Shrine are effectively an "outpost" in this sense and I was very pleased to note, both in your Bishop's letter and also in his words today, how this sensitivity is alive among you and perceived positively, with a genuine Gospel spirit. ...

Lastly, my thoughts return to the Most Holy Virgin. From this Shrine of St Mary de finibus terrae I would like to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to the various Marian Shrines in the Salento, true gems set in this peninsula, set like a bridge over the sea.

The Marian piety of the populations was formed under the wonderful influence of the Basilian devotion to the Theotokos, a devotion cultivated later by the sons of St Benedict, St Dominic and St Francis, and expressed in the most beautiful churches and simple holy chapels that are cared for and preserved as signs of the rich religious and civil heritage of your people.

Let us therefore turn once again to you, Virgin Mary, who stood unwavering at the foot of your Son's Cross. You are a model of faith and hope in the power of truth and goodness.

With the words of the ancient hymn we invoke you: "Break the fetters of the oppressed, / give light to the blind, / cast all evil from us, / beseech our every good".

And, extending our gaze to the horizon where heaven and sea meet, we want to entrust to you the peoples who look out on the Mediterranean and those of the whole world, invoking development and peace for all:

"Grant us peace in our day, / watch over our way, / grant that we may see your Son, / in the fullness of joy in heaven".

Amen. "

The Basilica Sanctuary website is here (in Italian)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Maria Regina

Marian cycle in the oratory of John VII. Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Barb. lat. 2732, fols. 76v–77r

Marian cycle in the oratory of John VII. Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Barb. lat. 2732, fols. 76v–77r (detail)

Mosaic of Mary in Chiesa di San Marco, Florence

The image of Mary crowned as Queen (or Empress) of heaven is usually known by the Latin phrase "Maria regina".

Mary is shown wearing Imperial dress and a crown. Until the beginning of the 8th century, such images were relatively unknown in Rome. However they were common in Constantinople.

One of the earliest examples was the mosaic of the Virgin orans. It used to be in the funerary chapel of Pope John VII (705-707) in Old St Peter's Constantinian Basilica in Rome.

In 1605 Pope Paul V ordered the east end of old St. Peter’s nave, the last section of the early Christian basilica still standing, destroyed . Included was a the oratory of Pope John VII (705–707), on the east end of the church’s outermost north aisle

Pope Paul V provided for the preservation of “memoriae”from the old church, as well as for detailed documentation of the structure . The job of implementing these provisions fell to Giacomo Grimaldi,

His drawings and descriptions provide some of the most detailed information known about the early Christian basilica.

The head of Mary with crown survived the demolition of Old St Peter's. Today it is over an altar in the church of San Marco in Florence.

John VII had a strong devotion to Mary

The large central panel on the east wall of the Oratory presented “John, the unworthy bishop and servant of the holy mother of God,”. The Virgin is depicted in the surrounding narrative scenes,of the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, and Adoration of the Magi.

The increased incidence of this type of imagery at this particular time in Rome has been linked to a concurrent influx of Greek-speaking immigrants

John was of Greek nationality. John’s father, Plato, was cura palatii urbis Romae, or curator of the Palatine Hill. This makes John the first pope to be the son of a Byzantine official

"[T]he Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787)..[put] an end to the well known controversy about the cult of sacred images, this Council defined that, according to the teaching of the holy Fathers and the universal tradition of the Church, there could be exposed for the veneration of the faithful, together with the Cross, also images of the Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, in churches and houses and at the roadside Images of the Virgin have a place of honor in churches and houses.

In them Mary is represented in a number of ways: as the throne of God carrying the Lord and giving him to humanity (Theotokos); as the way that leads to Christ and manifests him (Hodegetria); as a praying figure in an attitude of intercession and as a sign of the divine presence on the journey of the faithful until the day of the Lord (Deesis); as the protectress who stretches out her mantle over the peoples (Pokrov), or as the merciful Virgin of tenderness (Eleousa).

She is usually represented with her Son, the child Jesus, in her arms: it is the relationship with the Son which glorifies the Mother. Sometimes she embraces him with tenderness (Glykophilousa); at other times she is a hieratic figure, apparently rapt in contemplation of him who is the Lord of history (cf. Rev. 5:9-14)"

(Pope John Paul II: Redemptoris Mater, paragraph 33----- 25th March 1987)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Madonna of the Bamboo Grove

The artist-nun of The Nuns of Carmel of the Holy Trinity
Madonna of the Bamboo Grove (summer) (1990)
Carmel of the Holy Trinity; 27-I, 3-chome; Motomachi, Jindaiji, Chofu-shi; Tokyo

The convent's prioress wrote to the The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio :

"We would like very much to avoid publicity, so unbecoming of poor Carmelite nuns, and so we ask you not to mention the artist's name. Our greatest privilege is to be instrumental in spreading the Marian devotion--Mary, who is our Queen and Mother of Carmel."

This work is part of a work called a kakejiku (hanging picture) and is meant to be displayed in the Summer.

The Japanese Madonnas are displayed at the website of The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute located at the University of Dayton, a Catholic and Marianist institution of higher learning, in Dayton, Ohio.

They maintain a website called The Mary Page

The Library is an international centre of study and research on Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. The Marian Library holds the world's largest collection of printed materials on the Blessed Virgin. The academic program has pontifical character.

The Gallery section on Marian art is massive and regularly displays exhibitions by contemporary artists on religious themes, related primarily to Mary

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

The Canberra Times reports on the Pope`s visit to Australia. It would appear that the visit has been overshadowed to an extent by the scandal of sex abuse despite the fierce and unequivocal condemnation by Pope Benedict XVI.

"WITH expectations in the past week waning that Pope Benedict XVI might saysorry to sex abuse victims of clergy, it was heartening to see yesterday's decisive apology.

It has been the elephant in the room throughout what has been an overwhelmingly celebratory week for the Catholic Church during its World Youth Day activities.

The pontiff's apology was unequivocal such abuses were a source of shame, deserving of condemnation, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

He described the ''evil'' acts as a grave betrayal of trust. The issue of sex abuse has shadowed the Catholic Church for too long. Stories of young victims surface, sometimes years after the fact, and accusations of mishandling of many allegations have been a blight on the institution.

It was illustrated again last week when Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell, the leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, was forced to defend his handling of a number of historic allegations. More distressing was the case of Emma and Katherine Foster, whose parents Anthony and Christine flew to Sydney in the hope of securing an audience with the Pope or Cardinal Pell.

Melbourne priest Kevin O'Donnell raped the couple's two daughters, Emma and Katherine, when they were in primary school.

After an eight-year legal battle, the family was compensated (out of court). Emma Foster committed suicide this year at the age of 26, while her sister Katherine drank heavily and was left disabled when she was hit by a drunk driver in 1999.

Will an apology ever be enough for the Fosters? Why did they have such a long and devastating battle to get justice?

While the Pope's words cannot undo the acts perpetrated on innocent followers of their faith, it is a way forward.

For the Catholic Church to remain relevant in this 21st century action must now follow these sentiments.

The church must support procedures, structures and services. And above all, it must thoroughly and honestly examine the causes for such sex abuse and develop solutions to prevent this continuing spectre. "

The Australian newspaper The Age reported the matter of the apology thus:

"WITH much-anticipated words, Pope Benedict XVI has apologised to Australia's victims of sexual abuse by clergy and people in religious orders, declaring abuse an "evil" whose perpetrators must be "brought to justice".

"I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering," he said.

The words of apology yesterday were not included in his planned speech, which "acknowledged the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious", but the Pope departed from the script to add the actual words of apology and to identify personally with victims.

He continued: "These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust,deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the church's witness."

But a Melbourne father, whose two daughters were raped repeatedly by a priest, now dead, at a Catholic primary school, said he was "deeply unhappy" with the apology.

"How can he share our suffering?" asked Anthony Foster, whose daughter Emma never overcame the horrors of her abuse and killed herself this year. His other daughter, Katherine, turned to drink and was disabled in a car crash.

"He can't understand what happened to us. He hasn't had children or lost children.If he sat down with us and watched the tears flow from my eyes, he might begin to understand. It's only an apology. We've had apologies before."

The Fosters interrupted an overseas trip and flew to Sydney hoping to meet the Pope and ask him to get the church to provide physical, emotional and psychological help for victims for as long as they needed.

Mr Foster said the church was not dealing effectively with abuse but was hiding behind the legal system to avoid helping people.

There had been indications that the expected apology yesterday might be toned down because of further controversy before and during the papal visit, including

- The Fosters speaking out about how Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell, as archbishop of Melbourne, had stalled compensation for their daughters.

- Cardinal Pell admitting that he had mishandled an abuse complaint in 2003.

- A World Youth Day co-ordinator, Bishop Anthony Fisher, complaining that some people were "crankily dwelling on old wounds" rather than delighting in the festivities.

Papal media director Father Federico Lombardi told The Sunday Age on Friday the Pope had been kept fully informed about these developments.

Yesterday, at a packed St Mary's Cathedral for the consecration of the new altar,the Pope asked Catholics to work with their bishops "in combating this evil".

"Victims should receive compassion and care and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people," he said.

But victims and their advocates were sceptical that the apology would produce change.

Chris MacIsaac, president of advocacy group Broken Rites, said more needed to be done.

"We want the victims to be treated fairly, we don't want them to feel that they have been shut out, we don't want them to be re-abused by church authorities."

Psychiatrist and abuse specialist Professor Carolyn Quadrio of the University of NSW said the Pope had "opened the door" after the church had compounded harm to victims by refusing to accept responsibility and by stonewalling. "It's important for offenders to be brought to justice, which means referring cases to the police quickly so they are investigated independently," she said.

It was important to provide treatment swiftly because often victims had to go through a rigorous process to receive help.

Leading Catholic commentator Paul Collins said the Pope had done all he could. "There really needs to be a serious public commitment on behalf of all the bishops to stand up and simply say, 'We have not done this well in the past. We have tried, but we have not succeeded'."

Henry Holiday

Henry Holiday (1839-1927)
Suffer the Little Children, 1907
Part of the Durning-Lawrence Memorial window, Essex Unitarian Church, Notting Hill, London

Henry Holiday is best known today as the illustrator of Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and the painter of Dante and Beatrice at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool but he was one of the leading stained glass artists of his time.

He was closely associated with the pre-Raphaelite circle. He succeeded Burne-Jones as chief designer for Powell & Sons in 1862

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Ford Madox Brown 1821-1893
Work (1852-1865)
Oil on canvas 137 x 197.3 cm
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, England

Brown is associated with that of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, although he was never a member.

Brown's most important painting was Work (1852–1865), which he showed at a special exhibition.

It depicts various characters from different social backgrounds at work in a street in Hampstead

Brown wrote a catalogue to accompany the special exhibition of Work.

The moral value of work was much discussed in the middle of the 19th century. This painting reflects that debate.

Manchester Art Gallery has to be congratulated on its Internet presentation of this work. Its presentation is really a model of what one would like to see other Galleries doing with its treasures. Its presentations work on a number of levels from simply a detailed art history commentary to presentations appealing to younger ages. Its interactive teacher resource which is interactive is brilliant and even shows the actual street in Hampstead depicted as it is now. It has hardly changed.

Fascinating. The presentation of the work illustrates the great potentialities of the Internet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

John Melhuish Strudwick (British, 1849-1937)

An important late Pre-Raphaelite painter, Strudwick was born in Clapham, South London.

He worked as studio assistant to Edward Burne-Jones, which firmly established him in the Pre-Raphaelite mould.

He lived in Hammersmith, close to Burne-Jones and T. M. Rooke, another studio assistant of Burne-Jones

Many of Strudwick's paintings have music as a central theme, for example When Apples were Golden (1906).

His output was very small because his technique was so meticulous.

His style derives from the Italian Quattrocento.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Prophets and Artists

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
View of Greenock, Scotland, 1816
Oil on canvas
66,6 x 112,3 cm
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Custom House at Greenock, Scotland 1828
Oil on wood
16 1/2 x 25 5/8 in. (41.9 x 65.1 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Ship "Favorite" Maneuvering Off Greenock, 1819
Oil on canvas
Overall: 76.2 x 128.3 cm (30 x 50 1/2 in.) framed: 96.5 x 149.9 x 9.8 cm (38 x 59 x 3 7/8 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
A Frigate of the Baltic Fleet off Greenock 1819
Oil on canvas
Height: 59.06 cm (23.25 in.), Width: 94.62 cm (37.25 in.)
Private collection

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
The Custom House Quay, Greenock, Scotland1820
Oil on canvas
Height: 58.42 cm (23 in.), Width: 93.98 cm (37 in.)
Private collection

Robert Salmon (1775-1845)
Packet Ship UNITED STATES 1817
Oil on canvas
27 in. by 40 in.,
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Some artists do not achieve the recognnition they deserve in their own country. Often they have to achieve recognition in foreign lands

One such is the marine artist, Robert Salmon (1775-1845)

Details about his life are sketchy. For instance, we do not know exactly when he died.

He was born at Whitehaven in Cumbria, England. He was the son of a jeweller from London.At that time, Whitehaven was one of the four most important ports in England. He left for London and exhibited at The Royal Academy. Hw changed his name from Salomon to Salmon.

In 1806 he moved to Liverpool. Again he moved to another marine city, Greencok, in Scotland in 1811. He remained there until 1822.

In 1828 he left Europe for the United States of America, settling in Boston for 14 years.He had a studio at the end of the Marine Railway Wharf overlooking the harbour. It was here that Salmon achieved his greatest success and recognition.

He is widely considered the father of American Luminism with a style of painting that was to influence the likes of Fitz H. Lane, William Bradford and many other young New England artists of the nineteenth century.

In many of his paintings, he adopted the low horizon and clear, sparkling light effects typical of Dutch seascapes.

Salmon left America in 1842 and for many years was believed to have died soon after. However, it has come to light that he went to Italy on his return to Europe. A number of Italian views attributed to him have survived, the latest of which is dated 1845. The date of his death remains uncertain

The above paintings date from the period before his American residence.

After the Act of Union 1707, Greenock's facilities made it the main port on the West Coast of Scotland and it prospered due to trade with the Americas, importing sugar from the Caribbean.

The Greenock Custom House building was designed by William Burn in 1818 and considered by many to be the finest in Britain. It underwent refurbishment which was completed in 1989.

The "Tail of the Bank" anchorage was so called because further navigation eastward to Glasgow was impeded for large vessels by an extensive sandbank.
Note the early steam paddleships in some of the pictures. The West coast of Scotland was at the forefront of building such ships in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cardinal Newman to be reinterred in preparation for sainthood

Ruth Gledhill of The Times states that the Vatican has ordered that the body of Cardinal Newman be exhumed and reinterred in a marble sarcophagus, where it can be more easily venerated by the faithful.

"The Causes of Saints wants the remains of John Henry Newman, who died in 1890, to be moved from a secluded cemetery and placed in the Birmingham Oratory, part of the English Oratory movement that he founded. ...

The Cardinal, already a Venerable, is expected to take the next step up the ladder to sainthood this year when Pope Benedict XVI declares him “Blessed”. ... He was the founder of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement revival in the 19th century and advocated a “via media” for the Church of England. But eventually he could no longer walk it himself and was received by Rome in 1845, and created a cardinal eventually.

Medics investigating the Newman cause have already validated one miracle. Another would be needed before he took the final step to sainthood, however, at least one other person claiming a miraculous cure after praying for the cardinal’s intercession is known to be waiting to testify.

Cardinal Newman, founder of the English Oratory of St Philip Neri, died in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on August 11, 1890, aged 89. His funeral Mass was held a week later when more than 15,000 people lined the route as his cortège made its way to the Oratory House at Rednal, on the outskirts of Birmingham, where he was buried in a small, secluded cemetery used by other members of his community.

After the exhumation, which must first be authorised by the British authorities, the body of Cardinal Newman would be put in a specially made, simple, marble sarcophagus and placed in the Birmingham Oratory. "

Monday, July 14, 2008

Renunciation: St Elizabeth of Hungary

Philip Hermogenes Calderon 1833-1898
St Elizabeth of Hungary's Great Act of Renunciation 1891
Oil on canvas:support: 1530 x 2134 mm
Tate Britain, London

The Tate catalogue for this painting describes the painting`s theme thus:

"Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) was the wife of Lewis, Landgrave of Thuringia. After his death in 1227 during one of the Crusades, she entered a convent and devoted herself to good works. Before becoming a nun, she passed through a spiritual crisis, torn by the need to renounce the world, and therefore her children, in order to fulfil her desire to serve God. Pressed by a domineering monk, Conrad, whose natural affections had been starved by celibacy, Elizabeth finally vowed that 'naked and barefoot' she would follow her 'naked Lord'. "

Philip Hermogenes Calderon was born in Poitiers, the son of Juan Calderon, later Professor of Spanish Literature at Kings College. His father was a former Roman Catholic priest who had converted to Anglicanism. He had left Catholicism to marry. His mother was French.

He studied engineering, and became so much interested in the drawing side that he decided to become a painter.

Despite his antecedents, he and his family moved to England in the 1840s and he was brought up and lived in England. He is regarded as an English painter. In 1887 he became Keeper of the Royal Academy

His works are sentimental and he was heavily influenced by the pre-Raphaelite sensibility.

His works often have a historical and religious theme or bias. Calderon was a guiding part of the St John's Wood Clique.

The above painting was bought for the nation in terms of the Chantrey Bequest. It hangs in The Tate Britain as part of the many works comprising the Chantrey Bequest.

(In 1875, the Royal Academy received under the will of Sir F. L. Chantrey RA, 105,000 pounds. The income each year was handed over to the Academy to purchase works of art - painting and sculpture - executed within the shores of Great Britain. The idea was to build up a national collection of British Art. It was a great honour for an artist to have a picture purchased under the terms of the Chantry Bequest )

The painting caused considerable controversy from Roman Catholic circles because it depicted the saint bending naked over an altar watched by monks. It was perhaps seen as containing an anti-Catholic sentiment.

Calderon took his subject from The Saint's Tragedy (1848) by the anti-Catholic Charles Kingsley [12 Jun 1819 – 23 Jan 1875]. You will recall Kingsley from his celebrated public disputes with Cardinal Newman.

It has been disputed that there is an anti-Catholic bias in the picture. However if one reads the Introduction to his poem-play by Kingsley, one can see that the theme is definitely not pro-Catholic:

"The story which I have here put into a dramatic form is one familiar to Romanists, and perfectly and circumstantially authenticated. ...

In deducing fairly, from the phenomena of her life,the character of Elizabeth, she necessarily became a type of two great mental struggles of the Middle Age; first, of that between Scriptural or unconscious, and Popish or conscious, purity: in a word, between innocence and prudery; next, of the struggle between healthy human affection, and the Manichean contempt with which a celibate clergy would have all men regard the names of husband, wife, and parent. To exhibit this latter falsehood in its miserable consequences, when received into a heart of insight and determination sufficient to follow out all belief to its ultimate practice, is the main object of my Poem. That a most degrading and agonising contradiction on these points must have existed in the mind of Elizabeth, and of all who with similar characters shall have found themselves under similar influences, is a necessity that must be evident to all who know anything of the deeper affections of men. In the idea of a married Romish saint, these miseries should follow logically from the Romish view of human relations. In Elizabeth’s case their existence is proved equally logically from the acknowledged facts of her conduct....

Such was my idea: of the inconsistencies and short-comings of this its realisation, no one can ever be so painfully sensible as I am already myself. If, however, this book shall cause one Englishman honestly to ask himself, ‘I, as a Protestant, have been accustomed to assert the purity and dignity of the offices of husband, wife, and parent. Have I ever examined the grounds of my own assertion? Do I believe them to be as callings from God, spiritual, sacramental, divine, eternal? Or am I at heart regarding and using them, like the Papist, merely as heaven’s indulgences to the infirmities of fallen man?’—then will my book have done its work.

If, again, it shall deter one young man from the example of those miserable dilettanti, who in books and sermons are whimpering meagre second-hand praises of celibacy—depreciating as carnal and degrading those family ties to which they owe their own existence, and in the enjoyment of which they themselves all the while unblushingly indulge—insulting thus their own wives and mothers—nibbling ignorantly at the very root of that household purity which constitutes the distinctive superiority of Protestant over Popish nations—again my book will have done its work.

If, lastly, it shall awaken one pious Protestant to recognise, in some, at least, of the Saints of the Middle Age, beings not only of the same passions, but of the same Lord, the same faith, the same baptism, as themselves, Protestants, not the less deep and true, because utterly unconscious and practical—mighty witnesses against the two antichrists of their age—the tyranny of feudal caste, and the phantoms which Popery substitutes for the living Christ—then also will my little book indeed have done its work"

Kingsley`s treatment of the life of St Elizabeth of Hungary amounted to a Protestant revision of the life of a Catholic saint.

The most controversial scene in the play is Act 4, Scene 1 in which Elizabeth is before the altar and says:

"Lo, here I strip me of all earthly helps [Tearing off her clothes]
Naked and barefoot through the world to follow
My naked Lord."

Kingsley apparently did not intend there to be full nudity as later Elizabeth is made to remark: "I have stripped of all, but modesty."

However Calderon did depict her as seen above totally naked.

As well as criticism from the Roman Catholic press, the picture was parodied in Punch and in Fun in connection with the alleged impropriety "on the part of two officials of the London County Council, who were said to have demanded to inspect the bare back of Miss Zaco, a famous aerial act at the Royal Aquarium Summer and Winter Garden."

Usually the best way to deal with criticism is gentle laughter, not outright confrontation but satire.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pieta by Roy de Maistre

Roy De Maistre 1894-1968
Pieta 1950
Oil on canvas; support: 1524 x 1143 mm
Tate Britain, London

The artist wrote (30 January 1956):

‘Studies and projects for the Stations of the Cross were made in France between 1930 and 1938 and continued in London from 1940 onward. The “Pieta” now in the Tate Gallery stems from these studies.... All these are now embodied in “The Stations of the Cross”, a work in progress for the “Long Gallery” which connects the Clergy House with Westminster Cathedral.’

Roy de Maistre (1894 - 1968) was an Australian artist.

In 1930 he moved permanently to England

Christian symbolism and biblical themes are common in his work

He became a Catholic in 1951

He painted the Stations of the Cross in 1954 for Westminster Cathedral. For more and the Stations, see Solomon, I Have Surpassed Thee: Roy de Maistre- The Stations


William Powell Frith 1819-1909
Retribution 1880
Oil on panel 327mm x 412mm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham

Frith is know for his large pictures of scenes from Victorian life. He was very popular in his lifetime. He painted two series of five pictures each, telling moral stories in the manner of William Hogarth. These were the Road to Ruin (1878), about the dangers of gambling, and the Race for Wealth (1880) about reckless financial speculation.

He did not care for the Pre-Raphaelites or the Aesthetic Movement

This scene is the last of five pictures in 'The Race for Wealth' series depicting the rise and fall of a crooked financier. The scene is set in Millbank Prison, London

Millbank Prison was a large prison built in Millbank, Pimlico, London. It opened in 1821. It was designed in accordance with the utilitarian principles laid down by Jeremy Bentham

It was used until 1886 and demolished in 1890.

On part of its site stands the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) built in 1897

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Pope`s Australian Cousin

Mrs Erika Kopp, the Pope`s cousin

The Sunday Herald from Australia carries a story about Erika Kopp, aged 83, who is the Pope`s cousin and who lives in Blackburn South, Melbourne in Australia.

"The Pontiff's cousin, Erika Kopp, 83, said her famous relative had been a shy, clever and studious boy.

She had known the Pope since they were childhood playmates in Germany and said she was excited about his first visit to Australia.

"Coming to Australia is good for the Church," she said at her home in Blackburn South.

"It will inspire the young people and give them spiritual nourishment."

Ms Kopp said she felt sorry for Cardinal Pell - under fire during the week for his handling of sex abuse complaints against the Church - but thought the Pope would apologise to past victims of abusive clergymen.

"He likes people and he doesn't like to hide things," she said.

Asked if he should apologise, she said: "Yes".

The Pope is Ms Kopp's first cousin. Her father, Benno Riege, was the brother of the Pope's mother, Maria.

She spent most of her childhood holidays with his family in a small village in Bavaria.

"Nobody else in the family wanted to visit them because they were so religious," she said.

"He was a shy boy, very clever, studying all the time. He plays the piano beautifully."

Ms Kopp said she had not tried to contact the Pope and did not expect to speak to him while he was in Australia.

"We don't to be pushy. He is the Pope to a billion Catholics, she said. "I wouldn't bother him. I wouldn't know what to call him.

"To me, he will always be Joseph." "

Catholic Culture carries a more in-depth interview with Mrs Kopp, which tells us more about the young Joseph Ratzinger and his family.

"Pope Benedict XVI’s cousin, Erika Kopp, who lives in Blackburn South and migrated to Australia from Germany with her husband Karl in 1955, recalls visiting a shop with her then six-year-old cousin Joseph and her aunt.

“The shopkeeper was an elderly woman, and she asked Joseph, 'What are you going to be when you grow up?’ Mrs. Kopp said.

“He replied: ‘I am going to be a Bishop’.”

Mrs. Kopp, 79, was not surprised. “That was Joseph’s upbringing,” she said. “There was lots of prayer. His father was a high-ranking policeman, and before he went on patrol, he would always make the sign of the cross.”

So did the shopkeeper ask young Erika what she wanted to be when she grew up?

“Yes”, she chuckled. “I said a baker, and I was. I worked in my father’s bakery shop.”

The events of the past few weeks have been overwhelming for Mrs. Kopp and her family. Karl died in 2003 at the age of 83, but she is close to her daughter Veronica, and three granddaughters: Laura, 28, Rebecca, 26 and Helen, 23.

A bright and active woman, Mrs. Kopp is delighted that her cousin has been chosen to lead the world’s Catholics and has full confidence in him.

“I think he is the best person,” Mrs. Kopp said. “His mental capacity is still as good as if he were younger.

“I feel very excited and proud. Joseph is such a good man, a simple man, very quiet. He is also such a controlled man, very exact, always on time. I don’t think he can help himself. His father was like that.

“Joseph has studied all his life, and this is the highest thing you can achieve. He was always so clever, such a strong thinker. That is a gift from God. Even as a little boy everyone realised, Joseph is the wunderkind.

“When we were children I said to Auntie (Joseph’s mother Maria), ‘I wish I could be as clever as Joseph’, and she always said ‘Erika, when you finish school, you will be able to count your money’.

“Auntie meant that I would be bright enough to get on in life. I’m not as clever as Joseph, but I’ve got a good IQ and I’m 79.”

Mrs. Kopp’s father, Benno Rieger, was the brother of Pope Benedict’s mother, Maria, and young Erika spent childhood holidays with Joseph and his siblings Georg and Maria.

So how did Mrs. Kopp hear the news about her cousin’s election?

“My 86-year-old German friend phoned in the morning and said, ‘Erika, your cousin is Pope’, she said.

“I said ‘Martha, I don’t know’, and she said ‘Yes, it’s true.’

“I phoned Veronica and said, ‘Joseph is the Pope, they voted for him’.”

Laura said her grandmother’s phone had been “melting” with calls to Germany as the family monitored developments at the Vatican.

“We have heard stories about Grandma’s cousin, the Cardinal, since we were kids,” Laura said. “It’s all a bit manic at the moment.”

Mrs. Kopp has since spoken to her 84-year-old brother, Benno, in Germany. She also has a sister in Germany, Flora, who is 82.

“Benno always thought Joseph would have a better life not being Pope,” she said. “When Joseph was called to Rome (on 25 November, 1981 he was made Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), everyone in Munich was worried that Joseph would be homesick because he and his siblings were so close and were being separated.

“When we were children, Maria, Joseph’s sister, used to say, ‘If Joseph is a priest I will cook for him.’ And that is what she did. Maria looked after Joseph in the Vatican. She never married. Joseph had an apartment a bit outside, and Maria was like his housekeeper.

“When Maria died (on 2 November, 1991, aged 69) Joseph took it very hard. They were so close.”

Mrs. Kopp has many fond memories of childhood holidays with Joseph and his family.
“Joseph wasn’t a sportsperson,” she said. “They had all the music you could imagine and a big piano which Joseph and Maria played a lot. I rode Maria’s bicycle. Uncle spent all his money on their education, and Joseph attended a very exclusive school.

“Joseph’s mother did a lot for him. She was my sponsor when I was confirmed. She was very talented and a hard worker. She made Joseph teddy bears, and animals, and rabbits, whatever you can think. She made them by hand.

“I was at Joseph’s ordination (on 29 June, 1951), and he said, ‘Erika, I haven’t seen you for 14 years’. I would never have known how long it had been. Later he said to me, ‘Erika, I’ve still got my animals’.

“Auntie was also a very good cook. She made these wonderful preserved walnuts, and after our meal we were each given one.”

The childhood playmates last saw each other in 1981when Mrs. Kopp visited Germany, and her cousin was Cardinal of Munich.

“I visited his residence which was like Buckingham Palace,” she said.

Mrs. Kopp proudly shows off clippings from German newspapers charting her cousin’s rise, along with a letter from her cousin, Maria, when Joseph was appointed Cardinal in June 1977.

“Everyone says we look the same, they say, ‘Erika, you look more like Joseph than his sister’,” she beams.

Family and friends have suggested Mrs. Kopp visit her cousin in Rome.

“What would I say to a Pope?” she said. “I would say ‘Joseph, I am so proud of you. I hope God helps you carry this hard mission.”

Until then, Mrs. Kopp has a congratulatory card to send Pope Benedict XVI.

“I bought one from Coles,” she said. “I just want him to know how proud I am of him.”"

Pope prays for end to rifts in the Anglican Church

Associated Press reported today that the Pope said today that he is praying there will not be any more rifts in the Anglican community following the recent Church of England decision on women bishops.

"Answering questions from journalists aboard his flight to Australia, Benedict touched briefly on the turmoil in the Anglican church.

"I am praying so that there are no more schisms and fractures" within the Anglican community, Benedict said.

Benedict said he did not want to "interfere" in the debate."

State in new battle with bishops in Spain

The Times reports on a ratcheting up of the battle between Church and State in Spain. The Government there plans to "liberalise" laws on abortion and euthanasia. It also promises more moves to go towards secularism and reduce the role of the Church in Spanish society.

"Plans to relax strict abortion and euthanasia laws and a proposed ban on Catholic symbols at state events have put Spain’s Socialist Government on course for a showdown with the Roman Catholic Church.

Against expectations the country’s ruling party has adopted a slate of proposals from rank-and-file members at its annual conference that are likely to enrage the Vatican.

“We are going to do these things, and we’ll start soon,” the Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, said. “We won’t take a step backwards.”

The country’s Left-leaning Prime Minister, a self-declared agnostic,became a bête noire of the Catholic Church during his first term in office by legalising same-sex marriage, introducing fast-track divorce and allowing embryonic stem-cell research.

Spanish bishops were also outraged by his decision to pull religious instruction from the school curriculum, replacing it with “citizenship” classes that opponents say are an attempt to inculcate children with leftist ideals. However, the Government’s latest batch of measures are arguably the most controversial, touching on issues — such as abortion and euthanasia — that are anathema to the Holy See.

Pope Benedict XVI has made the fight against secularisation in Europe a chief concern of his papacy. Spain, a former Catholic bastion that has become one of the most socially liberal countries in Europe, has emerged as a key battleground.

“The Government is sending Spanish society on a macabre journey into a culture of death,” said Leopoldo Vives of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. “I dare say the next thing they will propose is infanticide for children suffering from serious diseases.”

Spain’s combative bishops are unlikely to take the latest measures lying down.

In December they led a 150,000-strong march in support of the traditional family, which quickly turned into an anti-Government tirade.

Relations between the Church and the Government reached a nadir before the March general election, when Spanish bishops called on the faithful to vote against Mr Zapatero. In return, the Prime Minister threatened to review state funding for the Church, which receives some € 5 billion (£4 billion) a year from the Spanish taxpayer.

This time round, the Government says that it hopes the bishops will not take to the streets again. “It would be better if those acts were not repeated,” the Government’s director of church relations, José María Contreras, told El País. If they do, “it won’t stop the Government from adopting measures or decisions set out in its electoral programme, which were backed by the majority of Spaniards at the polls”.

Under current Spanish law pregnancies can be terminated only until the 12th week in cases of rape or until the 22nd week in cases of severe foetal malformation. But there is no time limit on abortions if there is a risk to the mother’s physical or mental health. The majority of abortions are carried out alleging a risk to the mother’s mental health, something that opponents say is a flagrant abuse of the law. Catholic groups also say the 22-week limit is widely flouted.

The Government vowed yesterday to revise the abortion law, saying that it favoured the system used by Britain under which abortions are freely available until the 24th week of pregnancy.

Spain’s ruling party also vowed to launch a consultation for a new law allowing doctors “a more active intervention in the right to a dignified death”.

And it promised to do away with Christian symbols at state events."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pilgrimage to Canterbury

Thomas Stothard 1755-1834
The Pilgrimage to Canterbury 1806-7
Oil on oak panel support: 318 x 952 mm
Tate Britain, London

No. Not another post on the Anglican vote to allow women bishops. Or the forthcoming Lambeth Conference.

This painting was the cause of the end of the friendship between the artist and William Blake.

Blake claimed that Cromek had commissioned a painting of the Canterbury Pilgrims from him first, but Cromek had not liked the design and so took the commission to Stothard. Blake also claimed that the artist had in effect copied the design of the painting from his earlier design.

It is his best known painting. The engraving from which, begun by Luigi and continued by Niccolo Schiavonetti and finished by James Heath, was immensely popular.

However according to the Allinson Gallery website it would appear that it was Blake who may have copied the idea from Stothard.

In any event, the significance of the painting by Stothard is ably summed up thus:

"Stothard was the first modern painter to explore he pictorial potential of Chaucer's vivid descriptions of the pilgrims and the procession in his Canterbury Tales.

He began by making extensive researches into written and pictorial records of Chaucer's time in order to re-create an accurate view of the pilgrims. Stothard based the idea of his composition upon the famous frieze of ancient Greek sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles, from the Parthenon in Athens (although at this date his composition would have been based upon engravings of the marbles).

The final result was the impressive composition."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Vatican reacts to decision of Anglican Church to consecrate women bishops

The Telegraph reports on a negative reaction from the Vatican in response to the decision by the Anglican Church in England to consecrate women bishops.

"Officials said that the announcement was a "step backward" for reconciliation between the two faiths that split nearly 500 years ago.

The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity said it had learnt of the Church of England's decision "with regret", and warned that it would have "consequences for future dialogue, which until now has been very fruitful".

"This decision is a breach with the apostolic tradition maintained by all Churches from the first millennium, and for that reason it is a further obstacle for reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England."

Vatican insiders said that Pope Benedict had been kept fully informed of the proceedings at the Synod and his opposition to female clergy is well known.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has invited the council head Cardinal Walter Kasper to present the Roman Catholic Church's position at the next Lambeth Conference at the end of July."

The Church of England's ruling General Synod voted to consecrate women as bishops and approved drawing up a code of practice to reassure opponents.

A Church group will now draw up a draft of the code to put before the Synod next February.

However, it will not include safeguards demanded by traditionalists, such as allowing male "super-bishops" to cater for those opposing the change.

Liberals said such moves would have created a two-tier episcopacy.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Sunday Telegraph reports on the debate at the General Synod of the Church of England in York over amongst other things the issue of women bishops.

Apparently, senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops.

"They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England.

In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future. ...

The disclosure comes on the eve of a critical vote as members of the General Synod – the Church's parliament – prepare to decide whether to allow women to be bishops without giving concessions to staunch opponents.

Up to 600 clergy gave warning in a letter to Dr Williams that they may leave the Church unless they receive a legal right to havens within the Church free of women bishops.

In separate developments, three diocesan bishops wrote to the archbishop supporting the threat and two other bishops have said they are preparing to leave the Church. The letter from the Bishops of Chichester, Blackburn and Europe – seen by The Sunday Telegraph – argues that traditionalist clergy will not be able to "maintain an honoured place" in the Church without sufficient legislation.

"Clearly the ordination of women as bishops would divide the Church of England even more fundamentally than the ordination of women as priests," it says.


"These are the presenting issues that have made talks necessary, but our concerns go much deeper than these rows to issues of basic doctrine," [one] bishop said. "I have to be loyal to the parishes in my diocese and to the Gospel and that’s why I felt I had to do something."

Another bishop said: "The internal pressure of the Anglican communion has pushed us apart and we’re committed to greater unity with Rome. There can be no future for Christianity in Europe without Rome."