Friday, May 29, 2009

Virgin of the Rosary of Guápulo

Virgin of the Rosary of Guápulo, ca. 1680
Peruvian (Cuzco)
Oil on canvas
67 1/4 x 43 1/2 in. (170.8 x 110.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The painting depicts a dressed statue of the Virgin of the Rosary, said to represent a miracle-working cult figure in a native parish in Guápulo on the outskirts of Quito, Ecuador

Regina Sacratisimi Rosari

Print made by Jérôme David (printmaker; French; 1600 before - 1662 after)

Published by Agostino Parisino (publisher/printer; printmaker; Italian; 1625 - 1636; fl.)

Regina Sacratisimi Rosari 1634-1639

Engraving on paper 325 millimetres (trimmed) x 247 millimetres

Inscription Content: Lettered with production and publication detail: 'Hieronim. David Gal. Fecit - In. Bologna 1634, à S. Damiano Agostino Parisino D. D. D. D. et Forma', title and dedication to Odoardo Pepoli

The British Museum, London

The Institution of the Eucharist

Federico Barocci
Study for the ‘Institution of the Eucharist`
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Federico Barocci
The Institution of the Eucharist
Oil on canvas, 290 x 177 cm
Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

In 1587, Pope Clement VIII acquired the fifth chapel of the left-hand nave of the church of the Dominicans in Rome, S. Maria sopra Minerva. It was to house the tomb of his parents, Silvestro Aldobrandini and his wife Luisa Deti

In the spring of 1600 the Pope formed the plan of adorning this tomb more richly.
Clement VIII. took the liveliest interest in the decoration of the chapel to his parents. First in June, and again in October, 1602, he visited the works, which, after the death of Giacomo della Porta, were directed by Carlo Maderno.

The first visit which he made, after a serious illness, in March, 1604, was to this chapel. He personally gave directions for the placing of the statues, which he had already inspected in Cordier's studio. In December he returned once more.

Six weeks before his death in 1605, the Pope was to be seen praying in tears for an hour at his mother's tomb, which was not yet quite finished.

For the altarpiece, the Pope commissioned painter Federico Barocci. He worked on the canvas from 1603 until 1607.

At this time, the Cavaliere d'Arpino was the pope's most important artist, However Clement chose Barocci for this important and personal work.

In a letter dated 13 August 1603, Barocci said of the commission:

"Stasera uerso il tardi il Papa mi ha fatto chiamare, et quando sono stato dentro, mi ha detto ridendo, che se bene era cosa leggieri, per la quale mi hauea fatto dimandare, era pero un suo gusto et seguito, come fa fabricare una Capella qui nella Minerua in memoria de' suoi, Padre, Madre et fratelli, et desiderando, che nell'altare di essa ci fosse il quadro fatto da uallente huomo, se bene qui ce ne sono et in particulare ha Iseppino,[ the Cavaliere d'Arpino ] non dimeno si sodisfarebbe assai hauerlo di mano del Baroccio."

The Pope took a very close interest in the design and preparation of the painting.

The subject matter or theme, the Institution of the Eucharist, moved him much.

The Prayer for forty hours together before the Blessed Sacrament, in memory of the forty hours during which the sacred Body of Jesus was in the Sepulchre, began in Milan about the year 1534.

It was introduced into Rome for the first Sunday in every month by the Archconfraternity of the Most Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims (founded by St. Philip Neri in the year 1548). St Philip Neri was the private confessor of the Pope. On the death of St Philip, the successor of St Philip in the Oratory, Baronius became the confessor of the Pope.

This Prayer of the Forty Hours, practised often in one church or other at various times of the year out of devotion, was established for ever by Pope Clement VIII in 1592 for the whole course of the year, in a regular prescribed continuous succession from one church in Rome to another, commencing on the first Sunday in Advent with the chapel in the Apostolical Palace.

For reasons of historical accuracy, Clement VIII requested that the painting represent the Last Supper at night. This was notwithstanding that the picture was to be situated in a dark chapel.

The preponderance of black makes the yellow and orange of the apostles' already bright robes that much more brilliant as well as the whiteness of the Host.

In an early drawing, Barocci showed Satan accompanying Judas at his communion. According to Bellori, the pope was unhappy with the representation of the devil so near to Christ in depicting Judas' betrayal. Barocci then changed it.

As regards the posture and gestures of Christ and the placing of the Host, there is a contemporary account of the Pope`s wishes:
“vorrebe vedere la mano del Christo piu vicino all'atto del communicate e piu staccata dal petto, come fin all'hora parmi li scrivessi, l'altra che vi s'aggiunghino lumieri, che rimostrino esser stata di notte tale institutione stantissima, e pero mando l'un e l'altro.... 

si potesse desiderare alquanto piu aperta et espressa l'attione dell'Istitutione del Sacramento cal moto della mano piu staccata in atto di porgerlo.”

Christ holds the Host before His heart, and the shining, white disc stands out against the red of his robe. The use of scarlet reinforces the idea of the Christ's Body and Blood.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Jacopo Robusti known as Jacopo Tintoretto (b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
The Apotheosis of St Roch
Oil on canvas, 240 x 360 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

Jacopo Robusti known as Jacopo Tintoretto (b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
Oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

In early June 1564, one of the rich and powerful charities of Venice, the Scuola San Rocco, was determined to make a splash by commissioning the finest decorations for its magnificent headquarters.

Accordingly, a competition was announced for the oval canvas at the centre of the ceiling of the albergo, the room where the Board met.

As was customary, the finalists (Tintoretto, Salviati, Zuccaro and Veronese) were asked to come to the albergo with drawings of their proposed entries, which the assembled Board would judge.

The four competitors appeared with their drawings, except for Tintoretto, who, when asked for his design, had the cardboard covering the ceiling removed to reveal his finished painting, “St Roch in Glory”, in situ.

Thanks to an accomplice on the Board, he had been able to install it secretly a few days earlier.

To complete his triumph, he offered the picture to the confraternity as a donation, which they were bound to accept (though twenty of fifty-one Board members still voted against it – another reflection of the factions that swirled through the city).

The consequences of this episode dazzle us to this day: the vast array of Tintorettos throughout the Scuola, of which he became a member, and particularly the enormous “Crucifixion” in the albergo, which Ruskin and others have considered the finest painting ever made.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Visitation

Federico Barocci (about 1535-1612)
The Visitation of Mary 1583-1586
Oil on Canvas 285 x 187 cm
Altarpiece: The Chapel of the Visitation, Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome

Barocci (about 1535-1612) was one of the greatest Italian painters of the second half of the sixteenth century.

He was active during Italy’s Religious Counter Reformation

He stuck exactly to the Counter-Reformation's tenets on religious art drawn up at the Council of Trent. Barocci's ability to clearly represent a holy scene while using vivid colour to excite the senses and emotions, earned him the title among art historians of the first Counter-Reformation painter.

He was notorious for working very slowly, carrying out numerous preparatory drawings and only working a few hours a day due to ill health.

Gian Pietro Bellori (1613 – 1696), the pre-eminent biographer of the Baroque age, considered him the finest Italian painter of his period and lamented that he had `languished in Urbino'.

In conformity with the Council of Trent, both Jesuits and Oratorians exerted a new control over interior church design, conceiving their decoration as a program. The altar dedications were fixed, and had to be accepted by the patron.

In 1582, Francesco Pizzomiglio bought the rights to the Chapel of the Visitation of the Chiesa Nuova, Rome.

The Oratorian Fathers gave the family a choice of two painters for the Visitation, Girolamo Muziano and Barocci. They chose Barocci.

The result can be seen above. It was regarded as having set a new standard.

It would appear from the Beatification and Canonisation Process that St Francis Neri himself was taken with the painting.

Witnesses reported seeing him in the chapel, where he performed miracles or was seen in ecstasy. He was said to perform his own personal devotions before it, sometimes spending hours lost in rapture. Father Bacci recorded Neri's preference for the painting and his raptures there in his biography of 1622, recalling how "he would stay in the chapel of the Visitation where he pleasurably and willingly contemplated the image of Barocci."

The story was also repeated by Bellori

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jean-Jacques Henner 2

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 – 1905)
Tête de Vierge, étude pour Le Christ mort 1876
Oil on wood H. 35.4 ; L. 35,4
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 – 1905)
Miracle de saint Philippe Benezzi : des voleurs qui refusaient de se convertir sont consumés par un jet de feu 1860/7
Oil on canvas H. 32.2 ; L. 23,4
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jean-Jacques Henner

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Martyre 1892
Oil on wood H. 33.4 ; L. 54,7
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Oil on wood H. 12.5 ; L. 21
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Religieuse 1903
Oil on canvas H. 55.8 ; L. 40,5
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Saint Jérôme 1881
Oil on canvas H. 140.4, l. 200
Musée des beaux-arts, Valenciennes

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Sainte Madeleine en prière 1889
Oil on canvas H. 35.2 ; L. 10,8
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Pari

Jean-Jacques Henner (1829 - 1905)
Tête de Christ au tombeau/ Head of Christ in the Tomb 1884
Oil on canvas H. 15.8 ; L. 20,2
Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, Paris

Henner's first known works are family portraits, which he continued to produce alongside the portrayals of notables commissioned later.

Henner achieved the Prix de Rome in 1858 with Adam and Eve Finding the Body of Abel (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris)

After 1870 Henner began to move toward allegory and even symbolism, concentrating increasingly on the theme of death.

In his lifetime he was called the modern Correggio from Alsace.

Saint Fabiola

Francis Alÿs, Fabiola,
Installation views

The artist Francis Alÿs (b. Belgium 1959) appears to have a fascination, an obsession about Saint Fabiola

The National Portrait Gallery in London has an exhibition called “Fabiola”: an installation of hundreds of portraits of a fourth-century Christian saint.

These portraits, including paintings,embroidery and miniatures, are all versions of the same nineteenth-century original of Fabiola by the French nineteenth-century painter, Jean-Jacques Henner, and were gathered by the artist from flea markets, antique shops, and private collections.

Jean-Jacques Henner's definitive portrait of Fabiola (1885) is the prototype for all of the works on display. Henner's depiction of Fabiola, coinciding with a Catholic revival sweeping Western Europe, became so widely admired that both his portrait and Fabiola herself gained renown.

The Henner portrait was painted in 1885 but was lost in 1912.

In the exhibition each artist projects their own idea of what a truly good woman looks like. All show Fabiola as a person of their own time. In the Fifties and Sixties, for example, Fabiola is wearing more make-up than a Hollywood starlet. Some artists show her as mature, others as a young girl; in some she is smiling, in others her brows are slightly furrowed. There are as many different Fabiolas in this show as there are artists.

The nineteenth century craze with Fabiola seems to have started with the publication in 1854 by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman of his novel, Fabiola or, the Church of the Catacombs.

Fabiola was a counter-blast to the vigorously anti-Catholic book Hypatia (1853) by Charles Kingsley.

The story is set in Rome in the early 4th century AD, during the time of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Saint Fabiola was a Roman matron of rank of the company of noble Roman women who, under the influence of the Church father St. Jerome, gave up all earthly pleasures and devoted themselves to the practice of Christian asceticism and to charitable work. Fabiola continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poor and sick until her death on 27 December of 399 or 400.

The novel also weaves a number of martyrdom accounts and legends of real-life Christian saints into the story. These include Saint Agnes, Saint Sebastian, Saint Pancras (Pancratius), Saint Cassian (Cassianus), Saint Emerentiana, and Saint Tarcisius

But the fascination with the story of Fabiola did not stop with the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, two major films were based on Wiseman`s novel. There was one made in Italy in 1917. The second, again made in Italy, was a major production made in 1949.

It was released in the United States under the name “Fabiola”. For some reason, it was released in 1951 in the United Kingdom under the name “The Fighting Gladiator”. See below.

Is this the first film where the screen play credit shows a Cardinal ?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hymn to Saint Philip Neri

Alessandro Algardi, (July 31, 1598 – June 10, 1654)
Statue of San Filipo Neri
Marble, height c. 300 cm
Santa Maria Vallicella, Rome / Oratorio dei Filippini, Rome

Hymn to Saint Philip Neri 
This is the Saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning;
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness
Souls that are sinning. 
This is the Saint, who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares, and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers. 
Love is his bond, he knows no other fetter,
Asks not our all, but takes whate’er we spare him,
Willing to draw us on from good to better,
As we can bear him. 
When he comes near to teach us and to bless us,
Prayer is so sweet, that hours are but a minute;
Mirth is so pure, though freely it possess us,
Sin is not in it. 
Thus he conducts by holy paths and pleasant
Innocent souls and sinful souls forgiven
Towards the bright palace where our God is present
Throned in high heaven.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

St Philip Neri

Guido Reni (b. 1575, Calvenzano, d. 1642, Bologna)
St Filippo Neri in Ecstasy
Oil on canvas, 180 x 110 cm
Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome

St Philip Neri died in 1595.

This painting was commissioned in 1614, the year in which the proceedings that were to lead to Neri's beatification commenced.

A mosaic of this painting hangs in the chapel above the altar in the Chiesa Nova over which the remains of the saint lie. (see above)

The saint was beatified by Paul V in 1615, and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622

Cardinal Newman wrote of St Philip Neri:

“he contemplated as the idea of his mission, not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of doctrine, nor the catechetical schools; whatever was exact and systematic pleased him not; he put from him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David refused the armour of his king.... 
He came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down there, and his home and his family gradually grew up around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials from without. He did not so much seek his own as draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and they in their gay, worldly dresses, the rich and the wellborn, as well as the simple and the illiterate, crowded into it. 
In the mid-heats of summer, in the frosts of winter still was he in that low and narrow cell at San Girolamo, reading the hearts of those who came to him, and curing their souls' maladies by the very touch of his hand.... And they who came remained gazing and listening till, at length, first one and then another threw off their bravery, and took his poor cassock and girdle instead; or, if they kept it, it was to put haircloth under it, or to take on them a rule of life, while to the world they looked as before."

The Archbishop of Dublin speaks about the Ryan Report

In The Irish Times, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr DIARMUID MARTIN has written a leader about the Ryan Report and its description of mistreatment of children within the care of institutions of the Church.

As well as an apology it advocates steps towards full restitution towards the victims of such a system as well as steps towards ensuring that such a situation never recurs. Amongst other things it calls for a renegotiating of the compensation scheme so that the orders involved pay greater compensation.

He also warns of a future report regarding sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

It is worth reproducing in full:

“WHERE DOES the church go from here? The church has failed people. The church has failed children. There is no denying that. This can only be regretted and it must be regretted. Yet “sorry” can be an easy word to say. When it has to be said so often, then “sorry” is no longer enough.

But “sorry” must always be the first word.

The Ryan report shocked me. But it did not totally surprise me. I was ordained 40 years ago today and at my ordination and that of a friend we had a group of former residents of industrial schools: people of our own age, great people and friends of ours.

As students we had worked in a hostel in Dublin for former residents of industrial schools, especially Artane. Later I worked in a centre in London for ex-prisoners, a large proportion of whom included generations of Irish industrial school residents. The stories they told then were not radically different from what the Ryan report presents, albeit in a systemic and objective way which reveals the horror in its integrity.

Sadly, the Ryan report came so late.

Anyone who had contact with ex-residents of Irish industrial schools at that time knew that what those schools were offering was, to put it mildly, poor-quality childcare by the standards of the time. The information was there.

A chaplain to Artane had put much of it writing. A few courageous and isolated journalists like Michael Viney spoke out. When the first efforts were made to reform Artane, it was patently evident that the only change possible was to close it down.

Someone wrote to me this week about an entirely different matter and said: “there is always a price to pay for not responding”. The church will have to pay that price in terms of its credibility.

The first thing the church has to do is to move out of any mode of denial. That was the position for far too long and it is still there.

Yes, there was abuse in other quarters. Yes, childcare policy in Ireland at the time was totally inadequate. But the church presented itself as different to others and as better than others and as more moral than others. Its record should have shown that and it did not. Ryan reveals church institutions where children were placed in the care of people with practically no morals.

Where the church is involved in social care it should be in the vanguard. That is different to a situation in which the church proclaims that it is in the vanguard. In industrial schools the church, with good intentions, became involved in a Victorian model of childcare and became more Victorian than the Victorians, and when Victorianism was shown to be wrong, those responsible did not have the foresight to recognise that and children were exposed to pathological Victorianism.

There is a sense of shock among many good priests and religious at what has happened. But that sense of shock should not slip into a situation in which they feel themselves almost as the victims. No one in the church must ever try to water down or reformulate the suffering of survivors. Let the survivors speak and tell their stories as they experienced them.

What do I say to the religious orders who have been identified as being responsible for what happened? Let me speak to them directly: I think that you have to ask and truly try to answer the question which Ryan has put to you: “What happened that you drifted so far away from your own charism?”

I believe that you owe it to your good members to try to answer that question thoroughly, honestly and in a transparent way. Your credibility and the credibility and survival of your charism depend on the honesty with which you go about that soul searching. This may be a painful task, but it is unavoidable if it is to be possible for your charism to survive. People are angry and disillusioned.

What was lost was more than just a charism. Somehow along the way the most essential dimension of the life of the followers of Jesus Christ got lost by many. The Christian message is a message of love. What the Ryan commission recounts is sadly so very far removed from that. In Jesus’s eyes the poor deserve the best and they did not receive it here.

Even where you have recognised what was wrong, the Ryan report must have brought home to you the extent of what went wrong in a manner which perhaps you were not able to imagine in the past. The facts are now clear and you have to take notice and make some new gesture of recognition.

An agreement was made with government seven years ago. The fact that the mechanisms of fulfilling your side of that agreement have not yet been brought to completion is stunning. There may have been legal difficulties, but they are really a poor excuse after so many years.

Whatever happens with regards to renegotiating that agreement, you cannot just leave things as they are. There are many ways in which substantial financial investment in supporting survivors and their families can be brought about, perhaps in creative ways which would once again redeem your own charism as educators of the poor. In many ways it is your last chance to render honour to charismatic founders and to so many good members of your congregations who feel tarnished.

Sadly, in a very short time another report on the sexual abuse of children will be published, this time about how such abuse was managed in the Archdiocese of Dublin of which I am archbishop. It will not be easy reading. The steps that have been taken to put in place good child safeguarding norms will never wipe away the sufferings of those who were abused. Let the truth, however, come out.”

Sunday, May 24, 2009


In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that covers the altar in a basilica or other church. Such a ciborium is sometimes also referred to as a baldachin..

Nicolaus Ranucius (Ranierius) and His Sons, Johannes and Guittone
Marble, hard stone, and gold glass inlays
Italian, from the Church of Santo Stefano, Fiano Romano, near Rome
Made about 1150, with later restorations
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Basilica di San Nicolas in Bari, Italy

The ciborium in Bari is also decorated with mosaic; it has four columns with foliage, animals and mythological figures. The crypt, with 26 columns sporting capitals in Byzantine and Romanesque style, houses the relics of St. Nicholas

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Papal Blessing in Venice: Pentecost 19 May 1782

Francesco Guardi (1712-1793)
Pope Pius VI Blessing the People on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Oil on canvas, 63,5 x 78,5 cm
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

In May 1782, Pope Pius VI visited the city of Venice from 15 till 19 May 1782, returning from an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to the Austrian emperor Joseph II in Vienna

The highpoint of the festivities was the blessing of the people on Pentecost, the day on which the Pope was scheduled to leave.

On the square before SS Giovanni e Paolo, the monastery where the Pope had taken up residence, a wooden platform had been constructed.

Flanked by the ruling Doge, Paolo Renier, and by the Patriarch of Venice, and accompanied by spiritual and secular dignitaries, the pontiff blessed the assembled people

Three sonnets on his stay were published by Pilot in the Nuovo Arch. Veneto, XXVI. (1913), 234 seqq.

The Pope had been expected to stay a little longer in Venice. The ceremony of the Marriage with the Sea which normally took place on Ascension Thursday was delayed so that the Pope could attend.

However for some reason the Pope left Venice early and set off for Bologna.

By an ironic twist, many years later, following the death of Pius VI, at Valence in French custody in August 1799, the conclave to elect his successor met on November 30, 1799 in the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio, Venice. After several months of stalemate, Chiaramonti was elected as a compromise candidate. He was elected Pope Pius VII at Venice on March 21, 1800

Friday, May 22, 2009


Vincent de Beauvais
PentecostFrom Miroir historiale
Paris 15th century
BNF, Paris

Psalter (the 'De Lisle Psalter'; 'Arundel 83 II')
Arundel 83 ff. 117-135
England, S. E. (London?); c. 1310 and c. 1330 - c. 1340
The British Library, London

From Psalter (The 'Melisende Psalter') with canticles, prayers, and litany
Egerton 1139 f. 11v
Eastern Mediterranean (Jerusalem)
between 1131 and 1143
215 x 145 mm(135 x 75)
The British Library, London

Attributed to Jean Bourdichon
PentecostFrom Book of Hours, Use of Tours
c. 1490- c. 1500
Harley 2877 f. 45v
The British Library, London

The Last Communion of Saint Jose de Calasanz

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828)
The Last Communion of Saint Jose de Calasanz. 1819.
Oil on canvas, 250 x 180 cm.
Church of the Escuelas Pias de San Antón, Madrid

In 1819, Goya painted his last public work: The Communion of Saint José de Calasanz. He was commissioned by the Piarist Fathers to carry out the work on 8th May 1819.

The work was completed on 27th August 1819, the feast day of the Saint.

Goya did not charge the order for the commission.

Shortly after this painting was completed, Goya succumbed to a grave illness which nearly killed him.

The saint is depicted aged 91 years, old and infirm, about to receive his last communion. St. Joseph Calasanz died on August 25, 1648 at St. Pantaleo's Church in Rome, where his body is interred. Pope Clement XIII declared him a saint in 1767 and in 1948 Pope Pius XII named him the Heavenly Patron of all Christian Schools.

The Life of St Joseph Calasanz and the history of the Order he founded is perhaps instructive.

The Piarist Order, was founded in Rome by the Spaniard, Father José de Calasanz, (September 11, 1557 - August 25, 1648), He opened one school in a Roman slum in 1597 and was eager to open more. As educationalists the Piarists were revolutionary and successful. They taught useful skills such as writing and arithmetic to poor boys without payment. In 1621, the Piarists became a religious order.

By 1646, there were 40 Piarist schools all over Europe.

In that year the Order was dissolved by Pope Innocent X because of systematic child abuse.

The Piarists (Scuole Pie or Scolopi) reformed and under tight control were re-established as a teaching order by the end of the 17th century and have not been named in any child-abuse scandals since.


Joseph Calasanctius

Karen Liebreich: Fallen Order: Intrigue, Heresy, And Scandal In The Rome Of Galileo And Caravaggio (Atlantic Books, £16.99):

The View of Cardinal George Pell

Regarding the reports of “endemic abuse” in Ireland, Catholic News reports that Sydney Cardinal George Pell has said he was deeply moved by the brutality and cruelty catalogued in the 2500-page report on "endemic" mistreatment in church-run institutions in Ireland.

Cardinal Pell promised to closely examine and act on any links between the country's clergy and "grim" sexual abuse allegations contained in the report.

"It is grim reading," Cardinal Pell said.

"The only way forward is to acknowledge the wrongs that have been, to institute just procedures to process the complaints (and) to offer help to healing and compensation."

Pell said the Irish report would be thoroughly examined for any links to clergy or members of religious orders in Australia.

"And whatever needs to be done in the Sydney Archdiocese, and indeed more widely in Australia, will be done to bring justice to victims," he said.

Meanwhile, victims of abuse by members of the clergy in Australia have renewed their calls for a royal commission into the matter to be set up, ABC News says.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reactions to Ryan

Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian has a penetrating article to the publication of the Ryan Report just published in the Republic of Ireland.

She confirms with approval the reaction of one Irish Jesuit edited blog:

“Why did so many Catholic institutions fail so appallingly? A hundred reasons can be suggested, but three come to mind: undue respect for authority (which was self-justifying and rarely self-critical); religious authoritarianism (government of communities by self-perpetuating cliques, who rarely saw the need for fresh thinking); and a rancid clericalism (product of a religious culture that increasingly turned in on itself).

She writes that the matter causes her (and no doubt others) a very personal crisis.

Hopefully she and others will not turn from the Church as a result of this Report.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Culture of Abuse on an Industrial Scale

In Dublin this afternoon, the Commission into Child Abuse published its report on the care of children in the Republic of Ireland throughout most of the 20th century

It is an appalling litany, as detailed in The Irish Times The story is reminiscent of but far worse than that depicted by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist.

Sexual abuse was "endemic" in State-run institutions for boys and children lived in "daily terror" of being beaten over more than five decades, the long-awaited Commission into Child Abuse report has found.

The report, that runs to thousands of pages, outlined a harrowing account of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse inflicted on young people who attended schools and institutions from 1940 onwards.

It found that corporal punishment was "pervasive, severe, arbitrary and unpredictable" in the institutions where "children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from."

The report said that the level of emotional abuse of disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children by religious and lay staff was "disturbing" and that the Catholic Church was aware long-term sex offenders were repeatedly abusing children.

There were angry scenes at the launch of the report in Dublin's Conrad Hotel this afternoon when some victims were refused admission. Reacting to the report, victims' group One in Four said it was a "shameful day for Ireland".

The report is a devastating indictment of Church and State authorities when it came to their exercise of responsibility for the care of children in the Republic of Ireland throughout most of the 20th century.

The Commission, set up in May 2000, heard evidence from almost 2,000 people who spent their childhood in 216 institutions in the Republic, mainly in the decades between 1940 and the mid-1980s. However it also heard evidence from some people going back as far as 1914 and up to 2000.

Sexual abuse was "endemic in boys institutions", involving such abuse by some staff members and some older boys. Sexual abuse "was not systematic in girls' schools", though girls were subjected to predatory sexual abuse by male employees (of the institutions) or visitors or in outside placements.

Among the boys' industrial schools investigated in detail by the Commission were Artane in Dublin , Letterfrack in Galway, St Joseph 's in Salthill Co Galway and St Joseph 's in Tralee Co Kerry, which were all run by the Christian Brothers.

Also investigated was the boys' reformatory at Daingean, Co Offaly, run by the Oblate fathers, as well as industrial schools at Ferryhouse, Co Tipperary and at Upton, Co Cork run by the Rosminian fathers, and Greenmount industrial school in Cork , run by the Presentation Brothers.

Where girls' institutions were concerned it investigated Goldenbridge industrial school in Dublin, St Joseph's in Clifden Co Galway, St Michael's at Cappoquin, Co Waterford and St Joseph's in Dundalk Co Louth, all of which were run by the Sisters of Mercy.

It also investigated St Patrick's girls' industrial school in Kilkenny which was run by the Sisters of Charity.

Where all such institutions were concerned the Commission found that "children were frequently hungry, food was inadequate, inedible and badly prepared in many schools." Clothing was "a particular problem in boys' schools where children often worked for long hours outdoors on farms. In addition, boys were often left in their soiled and wet clothes throughout the day and wore them for long periods."

But where all were concerned, "in all schools up until the 1960s clothes stigmatized the children as industrial school residents." Accommodation in the institutions was "cold, spartan and bleak" with sanitary provision "primitive" in most boys' schools particularly.

Academic education "was not seen as a priority for industrials school children" and "in reality, the industrial training afforded by all schools was of a nature that served the needs of the institution rather than the needs of the child."

A finding which the Commission said was "a disturbing element" of the evidence presented before it, was "`the level of emotional abuse that disadvantaged, neglected and abandoned children were subjected to generally by religious and lay staff'' at the institutions.

Witnessing such abuse of other children, as well as witnessing beatings, "had a powerful and distressing impact" on children.

Separation of siblings and restrictions on family contacts "were profoundly damaging for family relationships." It meant that "some children lost their sense of identity and kinship, which was never recovered."

In addition to the conclusions above the Commission found that "schools were run in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even staff."

The system of institutionalisation in Ireland at the time was "a response to a 19th century social problem, which was outdated and incapable of meeting the needs of individual children."

The defects of the system "were exacerbated by the way it was operated by the (religious) congregations."

It also found that "the capital and financial commitment made by the religious was a major factor in prolonging the system" while "the system of funding through capitation grants led to demands by managers (of the institutions) for children to be committed to industrial schools for reasons of economic viability of the institutions."

By contrast it found that in England , from the mid-1920s on, "smaller, or family-like settings" were set up and were seen to provide better care for children in need. The Commission noted how, despite these advances in England , "in Ireland , however, the industrial school system thrived."

Where the Department of Education was concerned the Commission found that its "deferential and submissive attitude" towards the religious congregations "compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspections and monitoring of the schools."

The institutions were also "accorded a low status within the Department" which "generally saw itself as facilitating the congregations and the resident managers (of the institutions)." It found that the system of inspection of the institutions by the Department of Education "was fundamentally flawed and incapable of being effective."

Noting that "many witnesses who complained of abuse nevertheless expressed some positive memories" and that "small gestures of kindness were vividly recalled", the Commission's final conclusion was that "more kindness and humanity would have gone a long way to make up for poor standards of care" in the institutions.

Speaking at the launch of the report today, the head of the commision, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, said: “For all that the report tries to do, it does not try to balance what happened to children in institutions against what might have become of them if they had not been taken into care in the first place.”

“When you take people into a State-regulated, statutory systems of care, whether it is right or wrong to subject them to such detention, you owe them a duty to take proper care of them and it cannot be an answer to a complaint about abuse or inadequate care that the people would have been worse off if you had not taken them in.”

He also said all parties had co-operated with the commission in its investigation and singled out in particular among the religious congregations, the Rosminians for praise who operated industrial schools at Upton in Cork and Ferryhouse in Tipperary.

He said the Rosminian congregation accepted responsibility for the abuse in their institutions but they did not stop at that point. Their attitude was to seek to understand the abuse whereas other congregations tried to explain it.”

See also Ruth Gledhill`s blog in The Times

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Throckmorton Nuns

Nicolas de Largillierre French, 1656 - 1746
Elizabeth Throckmorton, 1729
oil on canvas
Overall: 81.5 x 65.7 cm (32 1/16 x 25 7/8 in.) framed: 115.6 x 89.5 cm (45 1/2 x 35 1/4 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Nicolas de Largillière (1656 - 1746)
Portrait of Anne Throckmorton as a Nun 1729
Oil on canvas 80 x 63.5cm
Coughton Court, Alchester

The Coughton estate in Warwickshire has been in the Throckmorton family since 1409

The Throckmortons and Coughton Court have since the Reformation been notable in their deep and continuous adherence to the Catholic faith, in spite of the costs.

The above two paintings were part of a group of three portraits of English Augustinian nuns from the Paris convent painted by de Largillière which once hung together at Coughton Court.

Elizabeth Throckmorton was the daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court.

She joined the convent where her Aunt was a member as a schoolgirl aged 14. In 1714 she took her vows with her sister Mary. Although not always in good health, Elizabeth Throckmorton was twice elected Abbess and her death was recorded as a great loss to the community. Her interest in reading and study is emphasised by the book in her hand. She died in 1760

Anne Throckmorton (1664 - 1734) was Abbess of the Augustinian Convents of 'Filles Anglaises' in Paris from 1720 to 1728. She was the daughter of Sir Francis Throckmorton, 2nd Baron and sister of the 3rd Baronet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Ascension of Christ

Garofalo (Benvenuto Tisi), (b. 1476, Ferrara, d. 1559, Ferrara)
Ascension of Christ
Oil on panel, 314 x 204,5
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

He was called Garofalo after his family’s hometown, which was part of the D’Este Duchy at the time, and was probably born in Ferrara, He was one of the leading artists in the 16th-century figurative art of Ferrara.

Garofalo is noted for the brilliant, jewel-like colours which are the product of the artist`s careful preparation and skilful technique.

He often used shell or powdered gold to decorate details. Note also his Ferrarese training in the almost miniaturist detail of the folds of the clothes.

The horizontal format, architectural setting and airy landscape are typical of his work. The brilliant yellow and green of the sunlit foliage stand out against the snow-capped mountains, which dissolve into the blue of the sky.

Garofalo visited Rome in 1512, where he came into contact with Raphael and studied the antique.

At a General Audience on April 12, 1989, Pope John Paul II said:

"“According to Luke, Jesus "was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). In this text two essential points are to be noted: "he was lifted up" (elevation-exaltation) and "a cloud took him" (entrance into the chiaroscuro of mystery).

He was lifted up": this expression corresponds to the sensible and spiritual experience of the apostles. It refers to an upward movement, to a passage from earth to heaven, especially as a sign of another "passage": Christ passes to the glorified state in God.

The first meaning of the ascension is precisely this: a revelation that the risen one has entered the heavenly intimacy of God. That is proved by "the cloud," a biblical sign of the divine presence. Christ disappears from the eyes of his disciples by entering the transcendent sphere of the invisible God.

This last consideration is a further confirmation of the meaning of the mystery which is Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven. The Son who "came forth from the Father and came into the world, now leaves the world and goes to the Father" (cf. Jn 16:28).

This return to the Father, the elevation "to the right hand of the Father," concretely realizes a messianic truth foretold in the Old Testament.

When the evangelist Mark tells us that "the Lord Jesus...was taken up into heaven" (Mk 16:19), his words echo the "prophecy of the Lord" recorded in Psalm 110:1: "The Lord said to my lord, 'Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.'" "To sit at the right hand of God" means to share in his kingly power and divine dignity.”

The Ascension

Albrecht Altdorfer (b. c.1480, Regensburg, d. 1538, Regensburg).
Die Auferstehung Christi/ Ascension of Christ 1527
Tempera on wood 34.5 x 25 cm
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

The Ascension was and is a challenging one for artists to depict convincingly. There are several examples in collections where Christ appears to have taken off rather like a rocket with only the lower part of his legs visible in the picture frame.

But it is the nature of what The Ascension was and is which causes the greatest difficulty for its depiction in art.

"So what does the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord mean for us? It does not mean that the Lord has departed to some place far from people and from the world.

Christ's Ascension is not a journey into space toward the most remote stars; for basically, the planets, like the earth, are also made of physical elements.

Christ's Ascension means that he no longer belongs to the world of corruption and death that conditions our life. It means that he belongs entirely to God. He, the Eternal Son, led our human existence into God's presence, taking with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form.

The human being finds room in God; through Christ, the human being was introduced into the very life of God. And since God embraces and sustains the entire cosmos, the Ascension of the Lord means that Christ has not departed from us, but that he is now, thanks to his being with the Father, close to each one of us for ever. Each one of us can be on intimate terms with him; each can call upon him. The Lord is always within hearing. We can inwardly draw away from him. We can live turning our backs on him. But he always waits for us and is always close to us."

From Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
on Saturday, 7 May 2005 at St John Lateran

Noli me tangere

William Etty 1787-1849
Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection (Noli me tangere) exhibited 1834
Oil on canvas
support: 407 x 667 mm
Tate Britain, London

“Jesus foretold his ascension (or return to the Father) by speaking of it to Mary Magdalene and the disciples during the paschal and pre-paschal days.

On meeting Mary Magdalene after the resurrection Jesus said to her: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (Jn 20:17).

On several occasions during the paschal period Jesus made that same announcement to his disciples. ...

If we examine briefly the content of the announcements quoted, we note especially that the ascension into heaven was the final stage of the earthly pilgrimage of Christ, Son of God, of one being with the Father, who had become man for our salvation.

However, this final stage remains closely linked with the first, namely, the "descent from heaven" in the Incarnation. Christ "came from the Father" (Jn 16:28) into the world through the Incarnation. Now, after the conclusion of his mission, "he leaves the world and goes to the Father" (cf. Jn 16:28).

His "ascent" is as unique as his "descent." Only he who came from the Father in the manner of Christ can return to the Father in like manner. Jesus himself makes that clear in his conversation with Nicodemus: "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (Jn 3:13).

Only he and no one else has the divine power and the right "to ascend into heaven." Left to ourselves and our own resources we cannot gain access to the "Father's house" (Jn 14:2), to a sharing in the life and happiness of God.

Only Christ can open the way to the Father: he, the Son who "descended from heaven," who "came from the Father" for this very purpose. Here we have a first result of our analysis: the ascension is included in the mystery of the Incarnation as its concluding moment.”

From the Speech of Pope John Paul II at a General Audience on 5th April 1989

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pius VI and the Glory of Philosophy

Angelo Campanella (born c. 1748- c. 1815)
Morte di S. S. Pio VI, seguita nel palazzo della Cittadella di Valenza / Pope Pius VI on his deathbed in the Palace at Valence 1805.
Engraving 32,5 x46 cm
National Library of Portugal

" The death of Pius VI has, as it were, placed a seal on the glory of philosophy in modern times." These words were used in a malignant obituary article on the great sufferer of Valence that appeared in a Paris newspaper. The times were such that it was thought possible to deliver funeral orations on the Papacy and to welcome with joy its permanent dissolution.

The Church's enemies were jubilant that the cockade was attached to the Papal tiara, that the banners of popular government were waving over the Papal tombs, that the body of the exiled Pope had been buried in unconsecrated ground.

The capital of Christendom had become the booty of the Revolution, the highest dignitaries of the Church had been scattered to the winds.

This then was the doleful end of the intellectual progress of the century of "enlightenment" Gallicanism and Jansenism, Febronianism and Josephism, still concealing their hostility to the Papacy with fine-sounding words, had gnawed at the Church's vitals from within, while the spirit of the Encyclopedists and " philosophers " threatened it from without.

The extreme shortsightedness of many princes and diplomats facilitated rather than hindered the advent of the evil; they had no conception that the storm of hatred, once unleashed among the people, would engulf their thrones along with the altars, human authority along with the divine. After everything traditional had been destroyed in the flames of the Revolution it looked as if the last hour had struck for the Roman Papacy as well.

But the miraculous happened once again."

From L. Pastor. The History of the Popes Volume 40, pages 395-396

See also:

Andrea Riccardi, The strength of the unarmed pope

Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishop of Valence 25 August 1999 :

"Pope Pius VI died in Valence 200 years ago on 29 August 1799. ... Pius VI's last months were his Way of the Cross. Over 84 years old and seriously ill, he was torn from the See of Peter.

Although he was able to enjoy a brief period of relative freedom in Florence, which allowed him to continue to exercise his responsibility as universal Pastor, he was forced to cross the Alps on snow-covered paths, and reached Briançon and then Valence, where death put an end to his earthly journey, giving some the impression that this would be the end of the Church and the papacy. One remembers Christ's words to Peter, which parallel what Pope Pius VI experienced that year, 1799: "When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go" (Jn 21: 18).

Pius VI accepted his trial with serenity and prayer, and forgave his enemies at the moment of his death, thereby gaining their admiration.

However, in addition to his physical suffering, he was morally tormented by the Church's situation. Despite the upheavals in France, he received many touching marks of respect, compassion and communion in faith from ordinary people all along the way in Briançon, Grenoble and Valence. However humiliated he may have been, the common father of the faithful, as the poet Paul Claudel said, was recognized and revered by the sons and daughters of the Church. The simple and attentive welcome in those dramatic circumstances is comforting to all.

This page in the history of the Church and of France is very instructive. Throughout her 2,000-year history, the Church has never ceased to suffer a multitude of trials. She is called to maintain her courage, for her mission comes from the Lord who never abandons her: as he promised, Christ is with us to the end of time (cf. Mt 28: 20).

At difficult moments, we should above all welcome the grace of God who increases our faith, keeps hope alive and firmly maintains communion among all Christ's disciples. It is the Holy Spirit who is at work, and it is God who causes the growth of the task undertaken by all Gospel missionaries, Bishops, priests, religious and lay people (cf. 1 Cor 3: 6).

The pontificate of Pius VI calls to mind the merits of the papacy which, down the centuries, was eager to defend the Church's freedom from the claims of civil powers. This is why many Popes fought and suffered to the point of giving their lives. Indeed, religious freedom is a right of every human person by reason of his very dignity, as the Second Vatican Council reasserted (cf. Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis humanae, n. 2).

Spiritual and religious freedom are particularly important in all nations. Without them the other personal and social freedoms are impossible. Freedom of worship is an indispensable condition for building a nation, as well as for cooperation and friendship between peoples.

In this spirit, down through history Christianity has always been concerned to gather together and unite individuals and peoples, tirelessly helping them to build a more just and fraternal society and to achieve peace, which is essential for the integral growth of human beings and human communities."

Judith and Holofernes

Maerten van Heemskerck (b. 1498 Heemskerck, The Netherlands, d. 1574)
Judith and Holofernes 1560
Pen and dark brown and light brown ink over black chalk, incised for transfer
7 13/16 x 9 15/16 in.
The Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Friday, May 15, 2009


Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Judith II1909
Oil on canvas
178 x 46 cm
Galleria d'Arte Moderne, Venice

The subject is taken from the Old Testament book of Judith.

The King of Nineveh, sends his general Holofernes to subdue the Jews. The latter besieges them in Bethulia.

Famine undermines the courage of the besieged and they contemplate surrender, but Judith, a widow, claims that she will deliver the city. She goes into the camp of the Assyrians and captivates Holofernes by her beauty, and finally takes advantage of the general's intoxication to cut off his head.

She returns inviolate to the city with his head as a trophy.

In a Christian context, the story of the Jewish heroine represents the triumph of virtue over evil, of Humility triumphing over Pride.

The theme of Judith was very popular in the Renaissance, especially Florence, where the sub-text was the triumph over tyranny (consider the importance of the theme of David triumphing over Goliath in the city)

Judith was considered the prototype of female strength. There is always an undercurrent of eroticism in the subject.

The subject of Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes was one of the most popular subjects in Christian art of the 1600s and 1700s. During the Counter-Reformation, the subject also became a powerful symbol of the Catholic Church’s triumph over heresy, or dissent from its teachings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Cajus Gabriel Cibber 1630-1670
Exterior view, pediment, high relief of Hercules Triumphing Over Envy 17th century & 18th century
Hampton Court Palace
Richmond upon Thames, England

From The Catechism of the Catholic Church in regard to the Tenth Commandment

"I. The Disorder of Covetous Desires

2535 The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him.

2536 The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:

When the Law says, "You shall not covet," these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: "He who loves money never has money enough."320

2537 It is not a violation of this commandment to desire to obtain things that belong to one's neighbor, provided this is done by just means. Traditional catechesis realistically mentions "those who have a harder struggle against their criminal desires" and so who "must be urged the more to keep this commandment":

. . . merchants who desire scarcity and rising prices, who cannot bear not to be the only ones buying and selling so that they themselves can sell more dearly and buy more cheaply; those who hope that their peers will be impoverished, in order to realize a profit either by selling to them or buying from them . . . physicians who wish disease to spread; lawyers who are eager for many important cases and trials.321

2538 The tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart. When the prophet Nathan wanted to spur King David to repentance, he told him the story about the poor man who had only one ewe lamb that he treated like his own daughter and the rich man who, despite the great number of his flocks, envied the poor man and ended by stealing his lamb.322

Envy can lead to the worst crimes.323

"Through the devil's envy death entered the world":324
We fight one another, and envy arms us against one another.... If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ, where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ's Body a corpse.... We declare ourselves members of one and the same organism, yet we devour one another like beasts.325

2539 Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin:

St. Augustine saw envy as "the diabolical sin."326 "From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity."327

2540 Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility:

Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother's progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised.328

320 Roman Catechism, III, 37; cf. ⇒ Sir 5:8.

321 Roman Catechism, III, 37.

322 Cf. ⇒ 2 Sam 12:14.

323 Cf. ⇒ Gen 4:3-7; ⇒ 1 Kings 21:1-29.

324 ⇒ Wis 2:24.

325 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 2 Cor. 27, 3-4 PG 61, 588.

326 Cf. St. Augustine, De catechizandis rudibus 4, 8 PL 40, 315-316.

327 St. Gregory the Great Moralia in Job 31, 45: PL 76, 621.

328 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Rom. 71, 5: PG 60, 448.

Avaritia (Greed)

Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, active by 1551, died 1569)
Avaritia (Greed), 1558
Engraving; only state
8 7/8 x 11 1/2 in. (22.5 x 29.2 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1926
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“Representing the vice of greed, this image belongs to a series of prints of the Seven Deadly Sins, engraved by Pieter van der Heyden after drawings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The personification of greed, a fashionably dressed woman, sits in the central foreground blithely gathering coins in her lap, while a poisonous toad lurks directly in front of her. The various examples of greedy behavior and its unfortunate consequences, in evidence in the surrounding landscape, effectively demonstrate the message of the inscription below: "Scraping Avarice sees neither honor nor courtesy, shame nor divine admonition."

Each of the seven prints follows a similar compositional scheme, with the personification of the vice accompanied by a symbolic animal in the foreground.

Bruegel also adopted a common setting and "look" for the series by depicting each scene in the style of Hieronymus Bosch, to whom Bruegel was often compared. Greed features an assortment of fantastic creatures and a disjointed arrangement of hybrid architectural structures reminiscent of Bosch's work. This reminiscent style, employed consciously by Bruegel, contrasts sharply with the way he depicted the Seven Virtues, a series of prints executed in the following years—all of them set in an accurate version of Bruegel's contemporary world.”

See: "Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Avaritia (Greed) (26.72.31)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saints in Fifteenth Century Italy

Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci (Il Perugino) (b. 1450, Citta della Pieve, d. 1523, Perugia)
The Miracles of San Bernardino: The Healing of a Young Girl
Tempera on wood, 75 x 57 cm
Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia

Osservanza Master for the Church of Sant'Agostino in Siena (Italian, active second quarter of 15th century)
All Saints in an Initial E: Cutting from an Antiphonary, ca. 1430–40
(The Virgin in prayer, surrounded by Saints. Standing next to her in the foreground are Saint Augustine on the left, and Saint Paul on the right. Partly visible behind them are the heads and gold haloes of numerous other saints)
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment
6 3/4 x 5 1/2 in. (17 x 14 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.2484)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Initial A with Saint Dominic Saving the Church of Saint John Lateran, mid-15th century
From a Dominican gradual
Italian (Lombardy, possibly Cremona)
Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
4 1/4 x 3 5/8 in. (10.9 x 9.3 cm)
Bequest of Gwynne M. Andrews, 1930 (31.134.5)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“Whereas saints in the eleventh and twelfth centuries hailed from many countries of Latin Christendom, by the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries they came predominantly from France and Italy.... Between 1198 and 1431, the period studied by Vauchez, 25 per cent of all saints recognised by the Papacy were Italians; and more than 50 percent of all saints who had a local cult - whether canonically recognised or not- were of Italian origin. No other country came close. The preponderance of Italians was especially striking because in the same period no saints from the Iberian peninsula, northern Germany and the Low Countries received papal approbation.” 
From Religious Cultures by R. Po-chia Hsia in A companion to the worlds of the Renaissance By Guido Ruggiero, page 334

"If the historian of the Church of the fifteenth century meets with many unworthy prelates and bishops, he also meets, in every part of Christendom, with an immense number of men distinguished for “their virtue, piety, and learning," not a few of whom have been by the solemn voice of the Church raised to her altars. 
Limiting ourselves to the most remarkable individuals, and to the period of which we are about to treat, we will mention only the saints and holy men and women given by Italy to the Church. 
The first of this glorious company is St. Bernardine of Siena, of the Order of Minorites, whose eloquence won for him the titles of trumpet of Heaven and fountain of knowledge, and whom Nicholas V. canonized about the middle of the century. 
Around him are grouped his holy brothers in religion: Saints John Capistran, Jacopo della Marca, and Catherine of Bologna, a Sister of the same Order (d 1463). 
Among the Blessed of the Franciscan Order are Tommaso Bellaci (d 1447), Gabriele Ferretti (d 1456), Arcangelo di Calatafimi (d 1460), Antonio di Stronconio (d 1471), Pacifico di Ceredano (d 1482), Pietro di Moliano (d 1490), Angelo di Chivasso in Piedmont (d 1496), Angelina di Marsciano (d 1435), Angela Caterina (d 1448), Angela Felice (d 1457), Serafina di Pesaro (d 1478), Eustochia Calafata (d 1491), etc. 
The Dominican Order was yet richer in saints and holy persons.
Blessed Lorenzo da Ripafratta (d 1457) laboured in Tuscany, and under his direction the apostolic St. Antoninus (d 1459) grew up to be a pattern of self-sacrificing charity, and the glorious talent of Fra Angelico da Fiesole (d 1455) soared heavenward, leading men's hearts to the Eternal by the language of art, as the mystics had done by their writings." 
St. Antoninus, whose unexampled zeal was displayed in Florence, the very centre of the Renaissance, had for his disciples Blessed Antonio Neyrot of Ripoli (d 1460) and Costanzio di Fabriano (d 1481). Blessed Giovanni Dominici (d 1420) and Pietro Geremia da Palermo (d 1452) were celebrated preachers and retormers.
Then follow Blessed Antonio ab Ecclesia (d 1458), Bartolomeo de Cerveriis (d 1466), Matteo Carrier (d 1471), Andrea da Peschiera (d 1480), the Apostle of the Valteline, the recently beatified Cristoforo da Milano (f 1484), Bernardo Scammaca (d 1486), Sebastiano Maggi da Brescia (d 1494), and Giovanni Licci, who died in 1511, at the extraordinary age of one hundred and fifteen.
The Dominicaness, Chiara Gambacorti (d 1420), had held communication with the greatest saint of the later mediaeval period, St. Catherine of Siena; and, together with Princess Margaret of Savoy (d 1407), also a Dominicaness, was subsequently beatified. 
In the Order of St. Augustine we have to mention the following who have been beatified :—Andrea, who died at Montereale in 1479, Antonio Turriani (d 1494), Rita of Cascia (d 1456), Cristina Visconti (d 1458), Elena Valentino d` Udine ( d 1458), and Caterina da Pallanza (d 1478). 
Blessed Angelo Mazzinghi de Agustino (d 1438) belonged to the Carmelite Order ; that of the Gesuati had Giovanni Travelli da Tossignano (d 1446), the Celestines, Giovanni Bassand (d 1455); and the Regular Canons the Holy Patriarch of Venice, St. Lorenzo Giustiniani (d 1456). 
Blessed Angelo Masaccio (d 1458) was of the Camaldolese Order, and finally the great Cardinal Bishop of Bologna, Albergati (d 1443), was a Carthusian. St. Frances (d 1440), the foundress of the Oblates, was working in Rome. The labours of another founder, St. Francis of Paula (born 1416, d 1507), belong in part to the period before us. 
These names, to which many more might easily be added, furnish the most striking proof of the vitality of religion in Italy at the time of the Renaissance.
Such fruits do not ripen on “trees which are decayed and rotten to the core."
From Pages 36-38 Pastor. Lives of the Popes Volume I

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cardinal Domenico Capranica (1400-1458)

The tomb of Cardinal Domenico Capranica (1400-1458) which he had built in the Chapel of the Rosary, next to the tomb of S. Caterina di Siena, in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome

Of the Cardinal, Dr Ludwig Pastor History of the Popes Volume II, pages 488-495 writes:
"Capranica, or the Cardinal of Fermo, as he was styled from his Archiepiscopal See, was valued by the new Pope even more highly than he had been by Eugenius. 
He accompanied Nicholas V. on his various journeys, and in the year 1449 was appointed by him to the important office of Grand Penitentiary, the duties of which he discharged in the most admirable manner. 
Various difficult legations were, as we have already said, confided to him, and while fulfilling these he also gave proof of his genuine devotion to the Church by promoting the cause of reform wherever it was possible to do so. 
In the Conclave after the death of Nicholas V. There seemed again a likelihood that Capranica would be chosen. During the Pontificate of Nicholas V. he had already been actively interested in the Turkish question, and under Calixtus III. He redoubled his efforts for the protection of Christendom. 
The plague, which raged in Rome in the year 1456, drove almost all the Cardinals away, but he remained with the Pope. He fearlessly traversed the infected streets, strewn with the unburied corpses of its victims, as he went to confer with Nicholas on the affairs of the Church. He displayed equal courage of another sort in personally and freely remonstrating with Calixtus when favours were heaped upon his unworthy relations. 
As we have already related, he steadfastly refused to acquiesce in Don Pedro's appointment as Duke of Spoleto. The enmity which he thus incurred induced him to withdraw more and more from public life, and he employed his time of retirement in pious exercises, as if foreseeing his approaching end. 
In the last days of July, 1458, just at the time when negotiations regarding his election as Pope were going on, Capranica was attacked by a slight indisposition, which soon grew into a mortal sickness. His first care was to receive the Holy Sacraments, and to seek pardon from the Cardinals for any offence he might have given them. 
Years before he had composed a little book, which we may really call a golden volume, “On the art of dying,” and all his thoughts were now directed entirely to eternity. He consoled the friends who stood mourning around his bed by reminding them that the death of those only is to be lamented who have never thought of dying until they saw that they could live no longer. 
The ideal of what a Cardinal should be is certainly a very high one. Capranica may be said to have realized it. 
All his contemporaries are unanimous in testifying that this great man united learning and piety in an uncommon degree. J His life was that of a Saint. His nightly repose was limited to four hours. Immediately on rising he recited the Hours, he then said or heard Mass, generally first going to Confession. 
Before granting audiences he devoted several hours to the study of the Fathers, among whom he had a special love for St. Jerome and St. Augustine. No women were allowed to enter his apartments, neither religious women nor his nearest relations—not even his sister and sister-in-law were excepted from this rule. 
The Cardinal of Fermo had built himself a palace suitable to his dignity in the vicinity of Santa Maria in Aquiro in Rome, but luxury found no place within its walls. His manner of life was remarkable for its simplicity; his dinner consisted of one dish. He hated court ceremonies, and in intercourse with others he was simple, short, and precise. 
His ecclesiastical household was composed exclusively of men of worth; various nationalities found place in it. To those around him he was rather a careful father than a master. If he perceived a fault in one of his retainers he at once endeavoured to correct it. He could be vehement and severe in dealing with the vicious and idle, and was unsparing in his reproofs to prelates who forsook their churches and busied themselves at court. 
Capranica was sterner towards himself than towards others. It is told of him that never, even in joke, did he permit himself to utter a falsehood. 
He repeatedly asked his friends frankly to point out his faults to him. When his dead body was unclothed it was found that even in his last illness he had worn an instrument of penance. His liberality was so unbounded that he was often in pecuniary difficulties. 
He frequently disposed of silver vessels and gave the proceeds, in secret, to the poor, who were required to promise that they would never let anyone know of his bounty. 
He bequeathed all his property to ecclesiastical uses. 
“The Church," he would say, "gave it to me ; I give it back, for I am not its master but its steward. I should, indeed, have reaped but little profit from the nights spent in studying ecclesiastical decisions if I were to leave the goods of the Church, which belong to the poor, to my own relations." 
In Rome and in the States of the Church, Capranica zealously strove to settle the numerous feuds which existed. 
If anyone would not be reconciled he used to take him into his room, and having bound him to secrecy, fall on his knees and implore him to make peace with his enemy.
He was a great lover of learning; his own attainments, especially in theology and in canon law, were considerable, and he counted among his friends both ecclesiastical and humanistic scholars. 
His valuable library was open to all students. He was also the founder of the first of the numerous colleges in Rome. 
In this institution, which still exists and bears his name, thirty-one poor scholars were to be received, of whom sixteen were to study theology and the liberal arts, and the remainder canon law. As his means were not sufficient to enable him to erect a building for this college, he received the students into his own palace. The constitutions, which he drew up himself, are in their way a model.'' 
Capranica was also an author. We have already spoken of his "Art of dying;" he also collected the Acts of the Council of Basle, wrote a work on the Turkish war, dedicated to Calixtus III., and for his nephews a set of Rules of Life, in which his beautiful character is reflected. 
When in the second week of August the physicians declared Capranica to be out of danger, the joy with which the announcement was received by all friends of learning and all well-disposed persons may be imagined. 
But a violent attack of fever came on in the night between the 13th and 14th, and by the afternoon of the latter day he was dead. A short time before he breathed his last he received the Holy Sacraments with such recollection and piety that he seemed to those who stood by like an angel from Paradise. 
The last words which the dying man addressed to his friends were to beg the alms of their prayers, and to exhort them to continue to labour indefatigably for the welfare of the Church which he had loved so ardently in life. 
" Two hours before his death,'' writes Otto de Carretto, the Duke of Milan's ambassador, " the Cardinal gave me his hand and said, 'God be with you; it grieves me to the heart that I have not been able before my departure to show to your lord and yourself the gratitude you deserve from me ; but God will repay you.' I," continues the ambassador, '" had no power to answer him. And so, my illustrious Duke, the wisest, the most perfect, the most learned and the holiest prelate whom the Church in our days has possessed is gone from us. His whole life was devoted to the exaltation of the Roman Church. He was the pillar of Italian peace and a mirror of piety and all sanctity. We all confidently expected soon to be able to honour him as Pope, for parties in general were agreed regarding his elevation. And now we must sorrowfully assist at his obsequies. Such is the world I So is every hope disappointed!"
With these words, written an hour after Capranica's death, the ambassador closes the despatch from whose faded lines the warm heart of the writer still speaks to our souls. 
The remains of the great man found a fitting resting place near the grave of St. Catherine of Siena in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. He was lamented by all. "Nothing but mourning and sighing is heard," wrote the ambassador of the Marquess Lodovico de Gonzaga on the 19th August, in reference to this calamity. 
The Romans had, indeed, good cause for grief. Of all the cardinals of the Renaissance Age none but Albergati, Cesarini, and Carvajal can compare with Capranica. His sudden death was, in the existing state of affairs, the heaviest imaginable loss to the Church. 
Two days later the Conclave began, and from it issued, as Pope, a cardinal distinguished alike as a statesman and an author, who had once been secretary to the Cardinal of Fermo."

His most lasting work was the foundation of the Seminary in Rome, now known as the Capranica.

In two speeches Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the college and the achievement of its founder.

In his address to the Seminary Community of the Capranica College, Rome on Friday, 19 January 2007, the Pope said:
"“I am pleased to welcome you just before the Feast of your Patroness, St Agnes. ... 
Five hundred and fifty years have passed since that 5 January 1457 when Cardinal Domenico Capranica, Archbishop of Fermo, founded the College that was named after him. He bequeathed to it all his property and his palace near Santa Maria in Aquiro, so that it could house young students called to the priesthood. 
The newborn institution was the first of its kind in Rome; initially reserved for young Romans and young men from Fermo, it later extended hospitality to students from other regions of Italy and of different nationalities. 
Cardinal Capranica died less than two years later, but his foundation had already started on the way it has followed until today, undergoing only 10 years of closure from 1798 to 1807 during the so-called Roman Republic. 
Two Popes studied at the Capranica: Pope Benedict XV, whom you rightly consider "Parens alter" because of the special affection he always felt for your house, and then, if for a shorter period, the Servant of God Pius XII. My venerable Predecessors, some of whom visited you on special occasions, have always demonstrated their benevolence towards your College. 
Our meeting today also takes place not only close to the Memorial of St Agnes but also in the context of an important anniversary for your institution. In this historical and spiritual perspective, it is useful to ask what motives impelled Cardinal Capranica to found this provident work, and what value they still have for you today. 
It is necessary, in the first place, to remember that the founder had direct experience of the colleges of the Universities of Padua and of Bologna where he himself had been a student, as well as those of Sienna, Florence and Perugia. These institutions had developed in order to house young scholars who did not belong to wealthy families. 
By altering several elements of these models, he conceived of one that would be exclusively destined to training future priests, with preferential attention to less well-off candidates. Thus, he anticipated by more than a century the establishment of "seminaries" decreed by the Council of Trent.
However, we have not yet focused on the basic reason for this provident initiative: it was the conviction that the quality of the clergy depends on the seriousness of their formation. 
Now, in Cardinal Capranica's time, there was no careful selection of aspirants to sacred Orders: they were sometimes examined in literature and song, but not in theology, morals and canon law, with foreseeable negative repercussions on the Ecclesial Community. 
This is why, in the Constitutions of his College, the Cardinal imposed on theology students knowledge of the best authors, especially Thomas Aquinas; on law students, the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, and on them all, Aristotelian ethics. 
Further, not content with the lessons of the Studium Urbis, he guaranteed supplementary lessons provided by specialists directly within the College itself.

This curriculum was integrated into a framework of integral formation centred on the spiritual dimension. It was supported by the pillars of the Sacraments of the Eucharist - daily - and of Penance - at least monthly - and sustained by the pious practices prescribed or suggested by the Church. 
Great importance was given to charity, both in ordinary fraternal life and in assistance to the sick, as well as to what today we call "pastoral experience". 
Indeed, it established that on feast days, students would serve in the cathedral and in other local churches. 
An effective support in the students' formation was also provided by the style of the community itself, including strong participation in decisions concerning life in the College 
Here we find the same fundamental disposition that was later to be made by the diocesan seminaries, of course, for the latter with a fuller sense of belonging to the particular Church; the choice, that is, of a serious human, cultural and spiritual formation, open to the requirements proper to the time and place.
Dear friends, let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and St Agnes, that the Almo Collegio Capranica may continue on its way, faithful to its long tradition and to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”

The next year Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, 19 January 2008 said:
"“After celebrating its 550th anniversary in 2007, the Almo Collegio, which boasts an age-old history and a long tradition of fidelity to the Church and to her supreme Pastor, will commemorate in August the actual anniversary of the death of Cardinal Domenico Capranica (14 August 1458), who did a great deal for the birth of the Collegium pauperum scholarium, destined for the formation of well-trained men for the priestly ministry. 
In approaching this anniversary, I gladly remember the exemplary and far-sighted figure of this Cardinal, who with determination and a practical sense knew how to support the desire for reform that was also beginning to make itself felt in Rome, and, a century later, was to contribute to determining the orientation and decisions of the Council of Trent. 
He had the gift of clearly intuiting that the hoped-for reform was not solely to concern ecclesiastical structures, but mainly the life and decisions of those in the Church who were called to be guides and pastors of the People of God at any level. 
Convinced of the importance of the spiritual dimension in the formation of future ministers of the altar and in the Church's mission, Cardinal Capranica not only did his utmost to establish the College, but he also desired to endow it with Constitutiones that fully regulate the various aspects the young students' formation. 
Thus, he showed his attention to the primacy of the spiritual dimension as well as his awareness that the depth and consequent perseverance of a sound priestly formation crucially depend on a complete and organic educational programme. These decisions have even greater prominence today, given the many challenges that priests and evangelizers must face in their mission. 
In this regard, on various occasions I have reminded seminarians and priests to cultivate a profound inner life, personal and constant contact with Christ in prayer and contemplation, and a sincere longing for holiness. Indeed, without true friendship with Jesus, it is impossible for a Christian, especially a priest, to fulfil the mission the Lord entrusts to him. For the priest, this certainly also entails a serious cultural and theological training which you, dear students, are acquiring during these years of study in Rome. 
Actually, I would say that your formation process can receive a decisive impulse precisely from your stay in this City. The levels of experience and the contacts that it is possible to have here are in fact a providential gift and a unique incentive. The presence of the Chair of Peter, the work of the people and organizations that help the Bishop of Rome to preside in charity, a more direct knowledge of certain particular churches, especially the Diocese of Rome, are important elements that help a young man called to the priesthood to prepare himself for his future ministry. 
Moreover, your Pastors have sent you to the City of the Successor of Peter in the hope that you will return later enriched by a pronounced Catholic spirit and with a fuller ecclesial sensibility of universal breadth. 
The experience of communal life at the Capranica College among students from various regions of Italy and from countries of the whole world, enables each one of you, dear friends, to be thoroughly acquainted with the interweaving of cultures and mentalities that is typical of contemporary life. Furthermore, the presence of several who belong to the Russian Orthodox Church gives a further impetus to dialogue and brotherhood and nourishes ecumenical hope.”