Friday, October 25, 2013

The Family

Henry Moore OM, CH (1898‑1986)
Family Group
1540 x 1180 x 700 mm, 475 kg
Tate Britain, London

It is this sculpture by the late Henry Moore which Pontificium Consilium pro Familia at the Vatican chose to depict "The Family and Art"

The narrative attached to the image on the Vatican website is as follows:
"A man and a woman are sitting next to each other on a bench. Their arms entwine to hold their little child together, a living tie between them, a permanent bond. Their raised knees and hollow busts form a kind of hospitable nest: the family is the sanctuary of life. The two monumental figures, with their majestically erect bust and very broad shoulders, do not have an individual character but are essential, universal and archetypical. 
The distended forms appear to be shaped by an intense internal energy, as if the inexhaustible fruitfulness of nature was concentrated in them. They lean forward and, at the same time, toward each another. The almost frontal position accentuates their solemnity and sacred quality. 
The conjugal bond and the new life that germinates points to the primary source of love and life: God himself. "
Originally in the 1940s, Moore was commissioned to make a sculpture for  Impington Village College in Cambridgeshire. 

It was a progressive school for its time 

Impington was designed by Walter Gropius, founder of The Bauhaus School of Architecture, and his partner Maxwell Fry. It is the only example of Gropius’s work in Britain and the building is now Grade I listed building.

However the work was not accepted for the school

Instead the work was accepted for another school: Barclay Secondary School in Stevenage

Four sculptures were produced: one for the school where it has pride of place in the entrance; another for the Tate; and two others are in the USA

Of the work, the school writes:
"This work is symbolic of our Barclay community, a school where families are welcomed and values of care, courtesy and confidence are embedded, where relationships, trust and mutual respect shape our daily life."
Moore regretted that the setting of the cast at Stevenage in a limited space in front of a curved baffle-wall, restricted  the view of the back of the work, which was designed in accordance with his insistence on the fully three-dimensional quality of sculpture. The Tate Gallery's cast is now exhibited in the large Sculpture Hall which allows for a full view of the sculpture

Family Group 1949 is an idealised vision of the nuclear family. Mother and father sit upright, their arms curving round to support the child between them. Their knees lean towards one another and they gaze calmly, but slightly impassively towards the spectator

It is a reassuring image of stability and security.

This theme was also used for another of Moore`s sculptures:  the life-size ‘Family Group’ in Hadene stone at Harlow New Town, 1954–5. 

Henry Moore OM, CH (1898‑1986)
Family Group
Hadene Stone.
Height 170 cm
Civic Centre, Harlow, Essex

Originally, it was sited in a landscape setting but was later moved to Civic Square and later inside  the extended and revamped Town Hall

According to Richard Cork in E. Rosenberg and Richard Cork, Architects’ Choice: Art and Architecture in Great Britain Since 1945, (Thames and Hudson, London, 1992), p. 52:
"The most lauded marriage between art and a new town occurred at Harlow, which grew rapidly from a small, scattered rural population to a thriving centre for over 70,000 people. It eventually acquired a sculpture collection larger than any other British town of similar size…"
Moore chose to depict a family group, which seemed particularly appropriate at the time as Harlow had a large population of young families. It was called "Pram Town". Its birthrate was three times the national average.

The Times described the unveiling:
" . . within an hour of its unveiling, the Family had already entered into the life of Harlow. Small boys were getting up on the pedestal, clambering over the woman and taking occupation of the empty place in the man's lap. At one moment, indeed, the family of three had expanded to one of seven."
Earlier this year the Henry Moore Institute loaned Family Group 1948 (LH 269) - see immediately below -  to the Victoria and Albert exhibition Modern British Childhood 1948-2012

The work was the centrepiece for the immediate post-war period and the 'golden age' of childhood part of the exhibition "1948 -1969"

The commentary from the V and A exhibition is more in touch with Moore`s work than the blurb from the Vatican website. Here is what the V and A said:
World War Two tore British families and the economy apart and was followed by a period of austerity. 
The War created expectations for a more equal society. 
The foundation of the Welfare State sought to overcome the 'Giant Evils' of 'Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness'. It also aimed to ensure that people received adequate income, health, education, housing and employment. 
Gradually, the economy, health and education improved. By the 1950s unemployment was low. 
However, increased wealth and social mobility were offset by social inequality. For many families, poverty and poor housing continued through this period. ... 
The family, once the cornerstone of society, came under threat. Other changes included the emergence of the teenager, increasing numbers of working mothers, the rapid growth of cities and the ‘freedoms’ of the 1960s. "
Moore`s work at this time is an optimistic reflection of a hope for a new humanism characteristic of the Britain at the time

Moore returned to the themes of The Family and Mother and Child through his long distinguished career. His views altered and developed

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Sacred Place

Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)
The Beech Tree of the Madonna at La Verna
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash and with traces of gray wash, over black chalk
15-13/16 x 10-1/8 in. (40.2 x 25.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)
La Verna: The Chapel of the Blessed Giovanni della Verna
Pen and brown ink and brown wash 
15 3/8 x 9 7/8 in
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)
View of the Monastery of La Verna: the road leading to the Monastery
1605 -1607
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper
325 mm x 252mm
The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)
View of the Monastery of La Verna: the courtyard and well, the Chiesa Grande behind
1605- 1607
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper
394 mm x 254 mm
The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

Jacopo Ligozzi  (1547–1627)
Chapel in the Monastery of La Verna
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper
269 x 243 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

During the 1500s and 1600s, interest in travel and tourism burgeoned

Padre Fra Lino Moroni of Florence, provincial of the Observant Franciscans in Tuscany, brought the Medicaean court painter  Jacopo Ligozzi and Raphael Sciaminossi (1529?-1622‏)   to Mt. Alvernia in 1608 

Both Ligozzi  and Sciaminossi had painted frescoes depicting episodes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi for the cloister of the Franciscan Church of the Ognissanti in Florence

The aim was to produce illustrations of La Verna  in the Tuscan Apennines, and the buildings of the Franciscan  community established there. 

The studies by Ligozzi are above

La Verna was and is a sacred place for the Franciscans: it was where St Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, the first occasion on which anyone had received such wounds

It was also the place where Friar Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, the General of the Order, and later saint and Doctor, composed his Itinerarium mentis in Deum showing  the way to move forward towards the heights where one encounters God. 

The illustrations were to be for a book, a guide book to La Verna: Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia which was published in Florence in  1612

The work was dedicated to the Archbishop of Monreale,  Arcangelo da Messina who had just stepped down as General of the Order

The book was only 24 pages of printed text and had 22 illustrations. Some of the prined plates are below

Four plates feature six engraved overlay slips, all but one of which are to show differences in the landscape between the early 13th century and 1608

Etched by Raffaello Schiaminossi, Italian, about 1570–about 1620
Engraved by Domenico Falcini, Italian, 17th century
After Jacopo Ligozzi, Italian, 1547–1627
Author Fra Lino Moroni, Italian, 17th century
The Famous Rock named for Brother Lupo
From Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia
llustrated book with 23 etchings and engravings
47.3 x 33.4 x 1.9 cm (18 5/8 x 13 1/8 x 3/4 in.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

From the website of Franciscan Institute Library.   St. Bonaventure University here are more images from the printed book:

Much of the text and all the illustrations can be seen on the website Il Bel Casentino  with photographs by  Alessandro Ferrini 

A second edition of the work was produced by Father Timoteo Canevese di Milano in Milan in December 1672

The concept of a "sacred place" has often been one fraught with difficulty especially for the Christian pilgrim

For the Christian, the concept of a sacred place has to bear in mind the words of Scripture as well as the early Church Fathers

In Matthew 23 Christ himself denounces the practices of the scribes and pharisees with their veneration of the altar and the temple in Jerusalem, the tombs of the prophets and Jerusalem, the holy city itself

In John 4,  in the discourse between Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, Christ says that God is to be worshiped neither in Jerusalem, the holy place of the Jews, nor in Gerizim, the holy place of the Samaritans, but rather in spirit and in truth

In Acts 7, Stephen criticized the idea of the Temple as a holy place
"47 But Solomon built a house for him.
48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says
49‘The heavens are my throne,the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house can you build for me?
says the Lord, or what is to be my resting place?"

Thus for Clement of Alexandria, “the true temple is the assembly of Christian people, [Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 8.5 (GCS 17, p. 22)]

And for Origen: “the holy place is the pure soul.” [Origen, Homil. in Levit., 13.5]

Gregory of Nyssa  noted that “a change of place does not bring one closer to God, but there where you are God will come toward you, if the condition of your soul is such that the Lord can there reside and move around (2 Cor. 6:16). But if you have the interior man (Rom. 7:22) full of evil thoughts, even if you are on Golgotha, even if you are on the Mount of Olives, even if you are in the tomb of the Anastasis, you are as far from receiving Christ within you as those who have not even begun to confess him.” [Gregory of Nyssa, Epist. 2.16–17]

Eusebios of Caesarea stated: “Since the coming of Christ, it is no longer necessary to adore God in specific places, in some corner of the world be it in the mountains or in the temples made by the hand of man, but each can adore him in his proper place” [Eusebios of Caesarea, Dem. Evang., 1.6.65]

At first the holy places associated with Our Lord came to be venerated. Then the places associated with others mentioned in Scripture, such as Moses on Mount Sinai. Then the martyrs. And then the saints

Therefore for the pilgrim, the holy place was a place of prayer where he or she could see, hear, touch things which led to contemplation and perhaps a theophany

The prime aim was or should be  to worship and pray in a holy place

Only later did this practice degenerate into adoring or venerating the place itself as a means of participating in its holiness

In May of last year Pope Benedict XVI was to visit and be a pilgrim at La Verna. However the trip was cancelled due to bad weather

Nowadays there is an explosion of visits to sacred places. It s part of the tourist, culture and heritage industry. 

However in his address Benedict XVI indicates the proper attitude of mind for the modern pilgrim

He wrote:
"We climbed as pilgrims up to the Sasso Spicco of La Verna where “two years before his death” (Celano, Vita Prima, III, 94: ff, 484) St Francis, received the wounds of the glorious Passion of Christ in his body. 
His journey as a disciple led him to a union so profound with the Lord that he shared with him even the exterior signs of his supreme act of love on the Cross. A journey which began at San Damiano before the Crucifix, contemplated with mind and heart. 
The continuous meditation on the Cross, in this holy place, has been a means of sanctification for many Christians, who, throughout eight centuries, have knelt and prayed here in silence and in recollection. 
The glorious Cross of Christ takes on the suffering of the world, but it is above all a tangible sign of love, the measure of God’s goodness to mankind. 
In this place we, too, are called to recover the supernatural dimension of our lives, to raise our eyes from what is contingent, to entrust ourselves totally to the Lord, with a free heart and in perfect joy, contemplating the Crucifix so that it may wounds us with his love. ... 
One does not climb La Verna without being led by the prayer of St Francis of the Absorbeat, which recites: “May the power of your love, O Lord, ardent and sweet power, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of my love” (Prayer of the “Absorbeat”, 1: ff, 277). 
Contemplation of the Crucifix is a labour of the mind, but it cannot rise freely without the support, without the power of love. 
In this very place, Friar Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, the distinguished son of St Francis, composed his Itinerarium mentis in Deum showing us the way to move forward towards the heights where one encounters God. 
This great Doctor of the Church communicated to us his own experience, inviting us to prayer. 
First, the mind must be given to the Passion of the Lord, for it is the sacrifice of the Cross that wipes away our sins, a fault that can only be filled by the love of God: “I urge the reader”, he writes, “above all to beseech in prayer for Christ crucified, by Whose blood we are purged of our sins” (Itinerarium mentis in Deum, Prol. 4). 
But, in order to be effective, our prayer needs tears, that is an interior movement of our love which responds to the love of God. 
And it is then necessary to have that admiratio, which St Bonaventure sees in the humble ones of the Gospel, those capable of wonder before the salvific work of Christ. 
And humility is precisely the door to every virtue. It is actually not possible to reach God with the intellectual pride of a closed search within oneself, but only with humility, according to the famous expression of St Bonaventure: 
Man “must not believe that it suffices to read without unction, speculate without devotion, investigate without wonder, examine without exultation, work without piety, know without love, understand without humility, be zealous without divine grace, see him without wisdom divinely inspired” (ibid.)."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gordian Knots

Perino del Vaga (Pietro Buonaccorsi)  (1501–1547 )
Alexander Cutting the Gordian Knot, Study for a Fresco in the Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
Pen and brown ink, brush and gray wash highlighted with white, squared in black chalk 7-1/2 x 4-7/16 in. (19.0 x 11.2 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

On campaign in 333 BC, Alexander the Great stopped at the Temple of Jupiter in the city in  Phrygian Gordium

In the temple was  a wagon fastened to a pole by means of a knot. He was told the legend that whoever could unfasten the knot would rule over Asia

He could not unfasten the knot by unravelling it. He drew his sword and cut right through it.

Hence the expression “to cut the Gordian Knot”, to cut right to the heart of a matter without wasting time on the normal methods or on  external details.

Perino`s study was for the decoration of the Sala Paolina in the Castel Sant`Angelo

It was commissioned by Pope Paul III, Alessandro Farnese in 1545. 

He wanted scenes to celebrate his namesake, Alexander the Great (and by implication, himself)

Perino  designed the finished fresco but did not execute it as he died in 1547

Paul III was  remarkable and controversial Pope but achieved much as can be seen from the article in THe Catholic Encyclopedia

From the religious point of view, his achievement was the opening of the Council of Trent

But for the Christian the hardest knots are those of disbelief and sin

A sword and cunning will no longer do

The kingdom we aspire to is not Asia or any part of this terrestial world

With his devotion to Mary as the undoer of knots, Pope Francis said recently of Mary:
"Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56). What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council took up a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith” (Adversus Haereses, III, 22, 4). 
The “knot” of disobedience, the “knot” of unbelief.  
When children disobey their parents, we can say that a little “knot” is created. This happens if the child acts with an awareness of what he or she is doing, especially if there is a lie involved.  
At that moment, they break trust with their parents. You know how frequently this happens!  
Then the relationship with their parents needs to be purified of this fault; the child has to ask forgiveness so that harmony and trust can be restored. Something of the same sort happens in our relationship with God.  
When we do not listen to him, when we do not follow his will, we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us.  
These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous, since many knots can form a tangle which gets more and more painful and difficult to undo. 
But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace.  
And Mary, whose “yes” opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy.  
We all have some of these knots and we can ask in our heart of hearts: What are the knots in my life? “Father, my knots cannot be undone!” It is a mistake to say anything of the sort! All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone. Do I ask Mary to help me trust in God’s mercy, to undo those knots, to change?  
She, as a woman of faith, will surely tell you: “Get up, go to the Lord: he understands you”. And she leads us by the hand as a Mother, our Mother, to the embrace of our Father, the Father of mercies."

Pope Benedict XVI had a similar message in 2012 when he preached to participants of the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan, He quoted St Ambrose:
"St Ambrose who preached and fostered virginity in the Church with surprising intensity, and who in addition promoted the dignity of women, would ask himself “How can we retain Christ?”.  
He would answer the question cited, “Not with knotted ropes, but with the bonds of love and with the affection of the soul” (De Virginitate, 13, 77).  
And in a famous sermon to virgins he said:  
“Christ is everything for us: if you desire to heal your wounds, he is the doctor; if you are parched by the heat of fever, he is a fountain; if you are oppressed by guilt, he is justice; if you have need of help, he is strength; if you are afraid of death, he is life; if you wish for paradise, he is the road; if you flee from darkness, he is light; if you look for food, he is nourishment” (ibid., 16, 99)."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don Vincenzio Borghini

Federico Zuccaro (c.1542 - 1609)
Vincenzo Borghini
Black and red chalk on paper
147 millimetres x  92 millimetres
The British Museum, London

Alessandro Allori (1535 – 22 September 1607)
Detail showing portraits of Isidor Montauto und Vincenzo Borghini (right)
From Scenes of the Old and New Testaments: Christ among the Doctors
Santissima Annunziata, Florence

Don Vincenzio Borghini (1515-1580) was a learned Benedictine cleric from an old and distinguished Florentine family

He entered the Badia as a Benedictine postulant in 1531. In 1537 he became deacon. He was ordained in 1541

He was a friend and adviser of  Giorgio Vasari from the 1540s onward, 

Borghini is best known in Florence as the spedalingo (Prior) of the Ospedale degli Innocenti (from 1552) (a charity institution that was responsible for the welfare of abandoned children) and the luogotenente of the Accademia del Disegno (from 1563). 

As regards the Accademia, he helped frame the constitution

Borghini also had a close connection with Alessandro Allori. With Borghini, Allori became involved in a number of projects relating to Florence’s recently formed (1563) Accademia del Disegno

These included preparation of the decorations for the funeral of Michelangelo in 1564 and for the marriage the following year of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici’s son, Francesco (later Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany) to Joanna of Austria.

He was also an important artistic adviser to the Medici, furnishing the subjects for many decorative cycles and devising the programmes for numerous ephemeral  public festivals

Here we see the Duke Cosimo`s letter to him about the funeral of Michelangelo:

Letter of Duke Cosimo I to Borghini re Exequies due to Michelangelo
Archives of the  Ospedale degli Innocenti, Florence

The obsequies honouring Michelangelo were lavish and  held at the church of San Lorenzo usually reserved for princes. Angelo Bronzino, Giorgio Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini and Bartolomeo Ammanati decorated the church and the catafalque. 

The chapels were cloaked in black, dramatically highlighting the nave, and the catafalque was surmounted by a pyramidal obelisk which bore bas-relief sculptures of Michelangelo. 

Ammanati's wife, the renowned Italian poetess, Laura Battiferra Ammanati, composed verses for the occasion 

Varchi wrote and delivered the principal oration. 

Other orations were delivered by  Giovan Maria Tarsia  and Lionardo Salviati

It was a civic and political canonisation

Bernardino Poccetti (Bernardo Barbatelli) 1548 - 1612 was another artist who had close connections with Borghini. At 22 he was admitted to the Compagnia di San Luca and later the Accademia del Disegno

Of his own works, they are mainly written but he could turn a hand:

Don Vincenzio Borghini (1515-1580)
Geroglifico delle Grazie
Pen and ink on paper
Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence

Of his published works he is known for a bowdlerised edition of Boccaccio`s Decameron when it was placed on the Index. However even the bowdlerised edition of 1573 was not enough as his edition was also eventually placed on the Index

He is best known for his two volume Discorsi di M. Vincenzo Borghini printed at Florence 1584 and 1585 which discusses the origins of the city of Florence and the Florentines

A few years before his death he was offered the Archbishopric of Pisa which out of humility he declined

He died in 1580 and in accordance with his wishes was buried before the high altar in the Church of the Ospedale degli Innocenti 

He made his will in June 1574. A copy of the Last Will is in the Archives of Florence. A copy is also on  the excellent website on the Carnesecchi family from which the following extracts about his soul and burial are taken. He may have been political, wealthy and a Medici  Florentine through and through but always a humble Christian.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ludolph of Saxony (4)

From Ludolphe  le Chartreux, Vita Christi 
French translation by  Guillaume Le Menand 
15th century
440 × 310 mm

The Vita Jesu Christi is a meditation on the life of Jesus in the form of a detailed commentary on the Gospels.

One of the main themes of the Book is that the imitation of Christ is the only means to salvation.

This theme was strongly emphasised from the eleventh century onwards

In Ludolph`s Proemium he wrote:
"In all virtues and good character, therefore, always keep before yourself that brightest mirror and exemplar of complete sanctity, the life and customs of the son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who moreover was sent to us from heaven in order to go before us in the way of virtues and to give us by example the law of life and instruction and to teach us as himself; that just as by nature we were created in his image, so we might as much as possible be remade according to his character by imitating his virtues, we who have sullied him image in us through sin.  
Moreover, to the extent that anyone tries to pattern himself after him in the imitation of his virtues, so in heaven he will be closer in the brightness of his glory, and more shining." 
Ludolphus, Vita Jesu Christi, 1:2 (Proemium, §4); translation from Charles Abbott Conway, The “Vita Christi” of Ludolph of Saxony and Late Medieval Devotion Centered on the Incarnation: A Descriptive Analysis, Analecta Cartusiana 34, at 123.

Again in the Proemium he wrote:
"Come and be present at his birth, and his circumcision, like a good foster parent with Joseph. Likewise come with the magi to Bethlehem, and worship the young King with them. ... Be present at his death with his blessed mother and John and share in their suffering and consolation"

Each chapter of the Vita concludes with an oratio, or prayer. These prayers are short, especially in comparison with the work as a whole, and typically refer to the specific incidents covered in the preceding reading.

As in the Spiritual Exercises, the prayer at each step of the pilgrimage is fundamental to the use of the work

Here are two of the prayers from the work (from Bodenstedt, Praying the Life of Christ):
"II, 28: Lord Jesus Christ, by word and example thou didst teach us to weep rather than to laugh. I beseech thee through thy most blessed tears and all thy sympathy teach me to see and know my sins and the dangers that threaten lest my enemies, that is, temptations of evil spirits, pomp of temporal things, and carnal pleasures, surround and hem me in on every side, and dash me to the ground; lest my children, namely, my senses, thoughts, and acts, ruin the harmony of the virtues (Luke 19:43f). Then, Most High, may I praise thee and confess thy name"
"II, 35: Lord Jesus Christ, teach me to discern, and to be cautious of, the wiles of seducers, to guard at all times the truth of life, of doctrine, and of justice. Grant me to be signed with thine image (Matt. 22:20), not with the enemy's, that, by forsaking worldly things and adhering to thee alone., .to renounce the sensual and worldly way of life.. .to merit to enjoy in heaven with the angels of God immortality and the everlasting vision of thee. Amen."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ludolph of Saxony (3)

Fray Ambrosio Montesino or Montesinos ( 1444? - January 29  1514 ) 
Vita cristi cartuxano romaçado

This edition of a translation of Ludolf of Saxony’s Vita Christi  has a particular historical significance

In 1499 Queen Isabella (Isabel la Católica) ordered the Franciscan friar and poet  Fray Ambrosio Montesino or Montesinos (1444? - January 29  1514 ) to translate into Castilian the work of the Carthusian

It took up to two years from 1499 to 1501 while the friar was at Cifuentes (Guadalajara)and his home town Huete, 

A poet in his own right,  he was the villanciquero of Isabella the Catholic . 

Eventually the work was published the work  in four volumes between 1502 and 1503. The printer was Stanislaus Polono 

As can be seen from the pages above it is a work dedicated to King Ferdinand the Catholic and Queen Isabella

The friar is depicted presenting his work to the King and Queen

It was this edition which St Ignatius read while he was recuperating and helped lead to his conversion

It is a work which is monumental in the history of Spanish printing

It was intended to be an aide to the Spanish monarchs and Court in following the liturgy

It was a Spanish work completely separate from the Latin and Italian traditions of the Spanish church. It is therefore an important work in the formation of a Spanish nationalism

The work was extremely popular. 

One feature of the work was that he highlighted with special characters passages that came directly from the Gospels (but in the vernacular Castilian)

The work was continually reprinted until  1559 which was when the Index forbade any translation of Scripture into vernacular (following the dictates of the Council of Trent)

Many Spanish scholars have highlighted the importance of the work in the formation nd development of St Ignatius` Spiritual Exercises

Perhaps this is the explanation of why at one time St Ignatius gave serious consideration to joining the Carthusians

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ludolph of Saxony (2)

Printed by: Martin Bouillon (Printer active in Lyon c.1507)
Transfiguratio Domini nostri Iesu Christi (Transfiguration of Christ)
From Vita domini nostri iesu christi graphice p religiosum virum Ludolphu[m] de Saxonia.... 1519
Book print
207 millimetres x 155 millimetres

Printed by: Berthold Rembolt (1494 - 1518)
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ with the Virgin Mary and St John
From Vita Jesu Christi... per Ludolp[hum de Saxonia]...
Book print illustration
280 millimetres x 169 millimetres

Both of the above are book print illustrations from the early sixteenth century  from translations of Vita Christi by the Carthusian Ludolph of Saxony (Ludolphus Saxo) - see below

As remarked before, this was a highly infuential work for many centuries

One of those greatly affected by his reading of the work appears to have been St Ignatius Loyola (1494 to 1555) the founder of the Jesuit Order

In 1521 - 1522 St Ignatius was bedridden for many months in the Basque country in Spain.  unable to read Latin and medieval romances, he only had few books to read. These were devotional works in Castilian: the Vita Christi (published in Castilian in 1503); the Flos sanctorum  (an abridgment of the Legenda aurea by the thirteenth-century Dominican Jacobus de Voragine; and The Imitation of Christ

Vita Christi played an important role in Ignatius’s conversion, and during his convalescence he copied out selections from it filling three hundred pages

Many Jesuits have acknowledged the debt of St Ignatius and the Spritiual Exercises to Ludolph of Saxony

In his translation of the chapters on the Passion in the Vita Christi, Father Henry James Coleridge SJ wrote
“It may be said in its own way to be almost as unique among books of the same kind as the treatise of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. It has been the delight and the food of the soul of countless saints since the fourteenth century. It was particularly dear to Saint Teresa, and it is said to have been the book, the reading of which, in his time of sickness, brought about, under God, the conversion of St. Ignatius.”
(Coleridge, Hours of the Passion Taken from the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Saxon. Quarterly Series 59. London, 1887)

In 1953, the Jesuit theologian Hugo Rahner said of the enquiries made to trace the sources of The Spiritual Exercises:
"What, in the end, was the upshot of all these laborious inquiries? Nothing but the single fact that Iñigo read only these three books: The Life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony, The Golden Legend, and The Imitation of Christ.
(Hugo Rahner, The Spirituality of Saint Ignatius Loyola: An Account of Its Historical Development, trans. Francis J. Smith (Westminster, Md., 1953))

Rather interestingly it has been argued by  that the word Jesuit itself may have its origins in a passage from the Vita:
"Likewise the name of Christ is a name of grace, but the name of Jesus is a name of glory. Just as through the grace of baptism Christians are called such by Christ, in heavenly glory it will be Jesus himself who will call us Jesuits, that is, saved by the Saviour"

For  more detailed studies see:

Shore, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits: The Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony and its influence on the Spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (30/1, January 1998).

Walsh,  Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits: "To always be thinking somehow about Jesus” The Prologue of Ludolph’s Vita Christi (43/1 Spring 2011)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ludolph of Saxony (1)

Ludolph of Saxony teaching
From The Prologue of Ludolph of Saxony (Ludolphus Saxo) the Carthusian, Vita Jesu Christi: ex Evangelio et approbatis ab ecclesia  catholica doctoribus sedule collecta
c, 1470
Paris - Bibl. Mazarine - ms. 0321, folio 1
Collège de Navarre, Paris

The book by the Carthusian Ludolph of Saxony (Ludolphus Saxo) was a best seller when it was written in about 1330

It is supposed to be the first comprehensive chronological life of Christ ever written

It is a meditation on the life of Jesus in the form of a detailed commentary on the gospels.

The book consists of 182 chapters in 777 pages of fine print

It was translated from Latin into seven non-English European languages in 88 printed editions

It was one of the most widely read devotional works of the 15th century

Its influence extended for a very long time and even into the 17th century

All we know of Ludolph was that he was born sometime about 1295 and 1300 and died in 1377

In his youth he joined the Dominican order. When he was about forty he joined the Carthusian order because he wanted a stricter life of silence and solitude

As a former preacher turned solitary, he intended that his work should be read not only by hermits, monks, and nuns, but also by friars, secular clergy, rulers, and ordinary lay people

Here is a recent version of the Latin text from a volume published in 1870 by Palme (although the manuscript on which it was founded may contain errors)

The meditations of the Hours of the Passion were translated by the Jesuit priest and convert , Father Henry James Coleridge in 1887. The prayers have been translated twice: first, by H Kyneston in 1908, and second, by Sister Mary Immaculate Bodenstedt in 1973

The influence of Ludolph`s book on two Doctors of the Church,  St Francis de Sales and St Teresa of Avila was profound. The article in The Catholic Encyclopedia by Ambrose Mougel in 1910 said that St. Teresa and St. Francis de Sales frequently quote from it

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Simone Saltarelli

For many Italians the name Simone Saltarelli is now associated with motorbikes (see him above)

But for others in medieval times  it had a different association. 

Simone Saltarelli (1261-1342) was from a distinguished family in medieval Florence. He was procurator general of the Dominicans then Bishop of Parma and latterly Archbishop of PIsa from 1323 to 1342

For medieval ecclesiastical historians he had a major role in the church politics of his day

As procurator general of the Dominicans, he had to present himself to the Papal Court at Avignon after Pope Clement V moved the Papal Court there in 1309, the start of the long "Babilonian Captivity"

It was Clement`s successor, Pope John XXII (pope from 1316 to 1334) who nominated Saltarelli bishop first of Parma then of Pisa

It was John XXII who condemned the Franciscan Spirituali with their support for absolute poverty. The claims of Michael of Cesena and other Franciscans were disputed by the Pope and the Dominicans

It is of course the background for the setting of Umberto Eco`s The Name of the Rose

In October 1327 the enemy of the Pope, Louis of Bavaria, entered PIsa. Saltarelli had to flee Pisa. In Pisa Cathedral Louis had Anti-pope Nicholas V declared Pope. On 19 February 1329 antipope Nicholas V  presided at a bizarre ceremony in the Duomo of Pisa, at which a straw puppet representing Pope John XXII and dressed in pontifical robes was formally condemned, degraded, and handed over to the secular arm (to be "executed").

For this Pisa was put under interdict

After Louis left Pisa, Saltarelli returned to restore order and persuaded the anti-Pope (a Franciscan) to renounce his claims

For modern art historians also Saltarelli  is an important figure in the Tuscan  art of his time

It was he who carried out a programme of restoration of the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. He had constructed the famous Spanish Chapel next to it. The frescoes in the Chapel were not commissioned until after Saltarelli`s death and were not completed until 1367

In  Andrea di Bonaiuto`s frescoes in the Spanish Chapel, Saltarelli is depicted in a place of honour

Here below we see Archbishop Saltarelli standing at the feet of Pope Innocent VI while admonishing Michael of Cesena and William of Occam. On either side of the Pope sit Cardinal Albornoz and  Charles IV of Luxembourg

Beside Saltarelli and beneath the feet of the Pope are the barking dogs, an allegory of the members of the Dominican Order (Domincani), the heresy hunters as modern popular historians like to characterise and mock them

Andrea di Bonaiuto (active 1343  - 1377)
Detail of Esaltazione dell'ordine domenicano
1365 - 7
Cappellone degli Spagnoli, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

In Pisa it was the Archbishop who commissioned the artist Buonamico Buffalmacco (circa 1290 – 1340) for the famous frescoes in the Campo Santo in Pisa: Il Trionfo della Morte; Il Giudizio finale e L'Inferno; and La Tebaide  (1330-1337)

Buonamico Buffalmacco
The Three Dead and the Three Living and The Triumph of Death
The Camposanto Monumentale, Pisa

Buonamico was a character and features in Boccaccio`s The Decameron as one of the characters in several tales, He was buried in Santa Maria Novella in Florence

In his Lives, Vasari (after narrating a tale about Buonamico and a Bishop`s monkey) says of the works in the Campsanto:
"The works of Buonamico, then, finding much favour with the Pisans, he was charged by the Warden of the Works of the Campo Santo to make four scenes in fresco, from the beginning of the world up to the construction of Noah's Ark, and round the scenes an ornamental border, wherein he made his own portrait from the life namely, in a frieze, in the middle of which, and on the corners, are some heads, among which, as I have said, is seen his own, with a cap exactly like the one that is seen above.  
And because in this work there is a God, who is upholding with his arms the heavens and the elements nay, the whole body of the universe Buonamico, in order to explain his story with verses similar to the pictures of that age, wrote this sonnet in capital letters at the foot, with his own hand, as may still be seen; which sonnet, by reason of its antiquity and of the simplicity of the language of those times, it has seemed good to me to include in this place, although in my opinion it is not likely to give much pleasure, save perchance as something that bears witness as to what was the knowledge of the men of that century: 
Voi che avisate questa dipintura 
Di Dio pietoso, sommo creatore, 
Lo qual fe' tutte cose con amore, 
Pesate, numerate ed in misura; 
In nove gradi angelica natura, 
In ello empirio ciel pien di splendore, 
Colui che non si muove ed e motore, 
Ciascuna cosa fece buona e pura. 
Levate gli occhi del vostro intelletto, 
Considerate quanto e ordinato 
Lo mondo universale; e con affetto 
Lodate lui che 1' ha si ben create; 
Pensate di passare a tal diletto 
Tra gli Angeli, dov' e ciascun beato. 
Per questo mondo si vede la gloria, 
Lo basso e il mezzo e 1' alto in questa storia.
And to tell the truth, it was very courageous in Buonamico to undertake to make a God the Father five braccia high, with the hierarchies, the heavens, the angels, the zodiac, and all the things above, even to the heavenly body of the moon, and then the element of fire, the air, the earth, and finally the nether regions ; and to fill up the two angles below he made in one, S. Augustine, and in the other, S. Thomas Aquinas.  
At the head of the same Campo Santo, where there is now the marble tomb of Corte, Buonamico painted the whole Passion of Christ, with a great number of figures on foot and on horseback, and all in varied and beautiful attitudes; and continuing the story he made the Resurrection and the Apparition of Christ to the Apostles, passing well.  
Having finished these works and at the same time all that he had gained Pisa, which was not little, he returned to Florence as poor as he had left it, and there he made many panels and works in fresco, whereof there is no need to make further record"

In The Triumph of Death we see the medieval contemplation of death as expatiated by Petrarch, a contemporary. In his Secretum meum 49 (c.1342-1343) Petrarch describes his vision of death which is uncannily like that depicted by Buonamico Buffalmacco:
"It is not enough to hear the name of death casually nor to briefly remember a death. 
One must linger longer and with fierce meditation consider separately each of the members of a dying person, the cold extremities, the breast in the sweat of fever, the side throbbing with pain in the nearness of death, the eyes sunken and weeping, every look filled with tears, the forehead pale and drawn, the cheeks hanging and hollow, the teeth staring and discoloured, the nostrils sunk and sharpened, the lips foaming, the tongues fouI and motionless, the palate parched and dry, the languid head and panting breast, the hoarse murmur and sorrowful sigh, the evil smell of the whole body, and above ail the horror of the totally estranged face." 
Francesco Petrarca, Secretum. (Rome: Archivio Guido Izzi, 1993) translated and cited in S. Y. Edgerton, The Heritage of Giotto's Geometry: Art and Science on the Eve of the Scientific Revolution, pp. 81-82.
Many scholars have associated Buffalmacco`s work with the occurrence of the Black Death in 1348. This view is no longer held. The work predates the Black Death by about a decade (c. 1336)

The contemplation of Death in what would see as "Gothic" was a feature of the time and pre-dated the great plagues which were a feature of the 14th century and which caused convulsions and upheavals in medieval society

In the work the messages on painted scrolls are emphatic in the meaning of the work. In one scene  a couple of Genii holding a scroll with the following inscription:
Ischenno di savere e di ricchezza,
Di nobilitate ancora e di prodezza,
Vale niente ai colpi di costei.... 
Knowledge and wealth
Nobility and valour
Means nothing to the ravages of death..

However one should not forget the other scenes in the other frescoes: the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. And thereafter the Last Judgment with the promise of Eternal Life

It is these other scenes which are the antidote to the Despair and Depression depicted in The Triumph of Death

One of Saltarelli`s great accomplishments was the renovation of the Dominican church in Pisa: Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The church was founded prior to 1211

Saltarelli was responsible for the commissioning of the great facade. It was completed in 1326

The church is now a quiet one but still important. The tourists bypass it. They hasten on to the Camp dei Miracoli. They overlook an historical and artistic treasure

This great church is where Archbishop Saltarelli was interred.

His tomb is one of the great works of the age by two of the greatest sculptors:  Andrea Pisano and his son Nino Pisano. It is a work of that age. It is one of the great works of that particular time, a time which we now have forgotten 

Andrea Pisano ( c 1290 -  1348) and Nino Pisano (c 1315 – c 1370)
Monument for the tomb of Archbishop Simone Saltarelli
White marble
Chiesa di Santa Caterina d`Alessandria, Pisa

For Nino Pisano it was his greatest recorded and surviving work

The balance of the composition may not be of the best but the statuary is amongst the finest. 

In any event it is a complex work

On the base are three panels in relief, illustrating the dealings  of the Archbishop with Louis of Bavaria when he seized Pisa  by force. 

It is these events which are regarded as the highpoint of the Archbishop`s ecclesiastical and religious life.

He could have resisted by force. He did not. He left the city and there was no bloodshed.

He re-established the status ante quo peacefully and by negotiation

He repaired the split in medieval Christendom which a few decades later split again into the Western Schism with pope against antipope waged against each other.  There was of course a further split after the Council of Pisa in 1409

Above this level is the effigy of the Archbishop

The effigy lies behind a heavy colonnade of pillars  and arches, on each side of which are graceful angels holding back a curtain

From the ground you cannot see the Archbishop`s face.

On the next level the soul of the Archbishop is seen being carried by angels and  flanked by two intercessor saints: Saint Dominic and St Peter Martyr, two of the greatest of the Dominican saints

The Empyrean is the Madonna and Child flanked by angels, the hoped for destination of all human life

This type of Dominican architecture and sculpture is seen in earlier Dominican art: the tomb of Benedict XI in San Domenico in Perugia and in the Ark of St Peter Martyr in the Portinari Chapel in the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio in Milan

It is the start of the use of the interior of churches as places of burial, a practice which was encouraged and became popular.

It was the way to memorialise individual human lives and an attempt to ensure prayers for the repose of souls after Death

It was also a way for the Church to remind its congregations of the end of human life and the importance of the life to come.