Illuminations of Faith

Also via dotCommonweal, two posts from Father Joseph Komonchak, a church historian at Catholic University of America and a man with a keen eye and pen:

christ-on-abrahams-lap.jpgThe first
regards an article in the Washington Post on an exhibit at the National Gallery of medieval illuminated pages:

“These pages are like reliquaries,” the reviewer writes, “those golden jeweled boxes with small rock-crystal windows in which the Church preserved the fingernails of saints. The flawless hides, the thin sheets of gold glued to them, the pure blue of the Virgin’s robe (from powdered lapis lazuli imported from Afghanistan) and the sheer quality of the painting weren’t just signs of wealth, they were signs of veneration. What was written on the vellum — the law, the founding documents, the revealed word of God — was more valuable by far.”


If this one, showing Christ on the lap of Abraham, is any indication, it’s worth a trip. It runs through Aug. 2, which is enough time. BTW, the late librarian of the Vatican, Fr. Leonard Boyle, OP, was a man with a mischievous sense of humor, but to make a point. He used to scandalize colleagues at the library and in the profession by proposing that they tear pages out of some of the great manuscripts and send them around on exhibit. “Nobody will ever read them or see them if they stay stuck in here!” he’d say.

Fr. Komonchak’s second art-related post is a real eye-popper–it is about the art of Eastern Europe made available to Western eyes since the collapse of the USSR.


“One of these is the high altar in the Church of St. James in Levo?a in eastern Slovakia,” Komonchak writes. “It was carved by the school of an artist known as Master Paul, about whom not a great deal is known except that he lived in the town at the turn of the sixteenth century. Above [actually below in this post] is the Last Supper he carved out of wood. It is said that he put the faces of his fellow citizens on the apostles who are pictured very naturalistically. Note the two at the opposite ends of the table, one stuffing his face with bread, the other drinking. The beloved disciple rests his head on the table in front of Jesus.”

Last Supper.jpg

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Randy Haykin

posted April 6, 2009 at 2:37 am

Very inspirational for this Sunday. It’s always nice to see how faith blends with the arts.

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Mere Catholic

posted April 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm

How lovely are the gifts that God has given to us. That carving reminds me of the 16th century rosary bead- no more than 2 inches I think- into which scenes from the life of Christ have been carved. I saw it once during a visit to the magnificent Cloisters museum in NYC.

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