Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

As I did yesterday, I'm going to go ahead and post these pictures and then work on the post as the day progresses. The texts I'm using are from the Latin Vulgate, which is in most cases the same as that on the scrolls, and the Douay Rheims. Although most of the texts from the scrolls are only part of a verse, I haven't made any note of that. I just cite the verse the fragment comes from.

...percutient maxillam judicis Israel. 
...they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel. Micah 5:1

 ...unus assistens ministrorum dedit alapam Jesu, dicens: Sic respondes pontifici? of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: 
Answerest thou the high priest so? John 18:22

I've seen the above painting labelled as Jesus before Pilate, and that is a natural mistake since we are so used to thinking of the Passion in terms of the Stations of the Cross, and also, since most of us don't know Latin, that word, pontifici, is similar enough to Pontius to fool us. This, however, is Jesus before Caiaphas, high priest. The Old Testament verse from Micah immediately precedes a prophecy of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem

[Quoniam] ego in flagella paratus sum, et dolor meus in conspectu meo semper. 
[For] I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.Psalm 37:18

Tunc [ergo] apprehendit Pilatus Jesum, et flagellavit. 
Then [therefore], Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:1

A couple of things about the Old Testament scroll. It looks like it says Psalm 26 or possibly 27, but it is definitely Psalm 37. There is also a change in the text from dolor meus--my sorrow--to dolor tuo--your sorrow. 

...faciem meam non averti ab increpantibus et conspuentibus in me
 I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.Isaiah 50:6

...illudebant ei, caedentes. [64] Et velaverunt [eum, et percutiebant] faciem ejus
...mocked him, and struck him. 
[64] And they blindfolded [him, and smote] his face.Luke 22:63,64

Well I'm having a really hard time with this one. That Old Testament scroll has so many abbreviations in it that I can only determine one word for sure, and it's not Isaiah 5, so this will take more detective work than I have time to do now. As you can see, there is text omitted from the New Testament scroll so that it says blindfolded his face instead of blindfolded him and smote his face.

Aha! I have figured it out, as you can see above. I'm getting pretty good at decoding these abbreviations. The little thing that looks like the moon rising over the letters is an n and ib with a little mark over it is ibus and the thing that looks like a 7 is et.

Convent of San Marco, Cell 7

Can you imagine sleeping with this every night?

Convent of San Marco, Cell 28

Tamquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est. 
That's not Old Testament. That's definitely Acts 8:32
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. It is a reference, though to Isaiah 53:7:
He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.

Et bajulans sibi crucem exivit in eum, qui dicitur Calvariae.
And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary. John 19:17

Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea, et super vestem meam miserunt sortem. 
They parted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots. Psalm 21:19

diviserunt vestimenta ejus, sortem mittentes 
they divided his garments, casting lots; Matthew 27:35

Ipse autem vulneratus est propter iniquitates nostras, attritus est propter scelera nostra
But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins Isaiah 53:5

Et postquam venerunt in locum qui vocatur (dicitur) Calvariae, ibi crucifixerunt eum
And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified him there Luke 23:33

The Crucifixion, circa 1420, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion, perhaps St. Dominic's face is a self-portrait of Fra Angelico. This is in a corridor in the Convent of San Marco.

The Grand Crucifixion. I wish I could find a better image.

Descent from the Cross, San Marco

Descent from the Cross, again San Marco
Much to look at here. Off the top of my head, there's the self-portrait of Beato Angeli to the left of Jesus in blue. Also, Mary Magdalene in her customary position at the feet of Jesus.

...ipsum gentes deprecabuntur, et erit sepulchrum ejus gloriosum.
...him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10

Joseph...corpus Jesu: [53] et depositum involvit sindone, et posuit eum in monumento 
 Joseph...begged the body of Jesus. [53] And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen,
and laid him in a sepulchre Luke 23:50-52


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

I'm going to start now, and go ahead and publish the post, but add more as the day progresses.

Jesus washes the feet of his apostles.

Lavamini, mundi estote; auferte malum cogitationum
Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices Isaiah 1:16

mittit aquam in pelvim, et cœpit lavare pedes discipulorum, et extergere linteo
he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them John 13:5

The text in the Vulgate, as you can see, is a bit different from that on the painting. I wonder where the one on the painting came from.


The Institution of the Eucharist?

Et agnum ejusdem anni immaculatum faciet holocaustum 
And he shall offer every day for a holocaust to the Lord, 
a lamb of the same year without blemish    Ezekiel 46:13

I wish I could find the bottom text.

Well, here it is.

As you can see, it's almost impossible to read, but I know it's from this scripture text.

...paraverunt pascha.Et cum facta esset hora dicubuit, et duodecim apostoli cum eo.
...made ready the pasch. And when the hour was come, he sat down, 
and the twelve apostles with him. Luke 22:13-14

The above picture has me really puzzled. "What, I wondered, is He blessing?" Is it bread? Then I enlarged it (you can do this by clicking once) and I think it must be an apostle. There seem to be a lot of Last Supper paintings with one of the apostles, (John?) sleeping on the table. Does anyone know anything about this?

...ego immolo vobis victimam grandem super montes Israel, ut comedatis carnem, et bibatis sanguinem.
I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: 
to eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:17
Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, habet vitam aeternam.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life. John 6:55

This fresco is in one of the monk cells in what used to Santissima Annunciata, and is now part of the Museo di San Marco. There are twelve apostles here. Some artists portray Judas as being there at the institution of the Eucharist, and some do not. I wonder if Judas is the very dark man kneeling on the right. And there is Mary on the left, and I don't suppose that well is visible through that door on the right for no reason.


Ne timeas, quia ego tecum sum; [ne declines, quia] ego Deus tuus: confortavi te. 
Fear not, for I am with thee: [turn not aside,] for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, 
Isaiah 41:10
Apparuit autem illi angelus de cælo, confortans eum.
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him. Luke 22.43

 Another fresco from a monk's cell. I love Martha and Mary awake and praying.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Mystic Wheel

When I first saw this image in the corner of one of the panels of the Armadio degli Argenti, I found it jarring. I didn't like it, or at least I didn't like it where it was. I didn't seem to fit with the rest of the paintings. It was too geometrical. To tell you the truth, I hadn't even looked at it beyond a mere glance, and had no idea what it was all about until I read this in Diane Cole Ahl's Fra Angelico
[The] over-arching theme was introduced with the Mystic Wheel, the first scene of the Silver Chest. The Mystic Wheel illustrates an apocalypic prophecy from Ezechiel and its interpretation by the sainted Pope Gregory the Great.... For St. Gregory, the prophet's celestial vision of the 'wheel within a wheel' (Ezechiel 1:15-21) prefigured the reciprocity between the two Testaments.
Ms. Ahl goes on to explain that St. Gregory saw the Old and New Testaments as a single entity with the New contained in the Old. And so we see the prophets of the New Testament in the inner wheel, and the prophets of the Old in the outer wheel. The Old encircled by the beginning of Genesis, and the New by John 1. Ezekiel is on the bottom left, crying out in the wilderness, and Gregory is on the right holding, I presume but am not sure, his commentary on Ezekiel. There are banners with their texts above them. So, this panel sets the pattern for all the rest of the paintings.

I wish I had time to write more about this, because I find it fascinating, but I just don't. My own copy of Ms. Ahl's book arrived today, and I plan to read it slowly, and maybe some time when I'm not getting everything ready for Holy Week at work, and trying to find my mother a place to live, and getting ready to feed twenty people on Sunday, I will have the opportunity to write something longer and more thoughtful. Most of this post is just a paraphrase of Ms. Ahl's work.

While looking around for the best images of the paintings, I found this on Wikipedia. The picture was taken inside Sanctissima Annuziata, which is now part of the Museo di San Marco in Florence, and I think it might actually be the Armadio. It's nothing like I imagined. There are many other works by Beato Angeli in this museum, so now there is another name on my list of places I have to go should I ever get to Europe.

Now onto the Triduum. 


Spy Wednesday

Because of today's Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25.

. . .qui edebat panes meos magnificavit super me subplantationem

...who ate my bread hath greatly supplanted me
                                                                                                Psalm 40:10

I can't find this rendering of Matthew 26:25, nor can I quite make out the Latin on the scroll, but it's the verse that reads, "Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?'”

More later.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking Backward~and Forward

I got home later than I expected and that gives me a perfect excuse to wait until tomorrow to write more about the Armadio, which is okay because this is what I really want to post tonight. This is a post from two years ago, and I decided I would just add to it instead of writing a new one on the same topic.

Early this morning the moon was full, which is how we know it's going to be Easter on Sunday, since it's the first full moon since the Spring equinox. My granddaughter took the picture below on Holy Thursday in 2012, on the way home from Mass, and it may have actually been a day early, but close enough. After this, I decided I would take a picture of this full moon every year.

The first full moon after the Vernal Equinox--2012
Ecclesiastical Full Moon
Paschal Full Moon

I took this next one in the early morning hours of Holy Thursday in 2013. It was March 28, and I was on a private retreat in French Camp Mississippi. 

The difference in size has more to do with the fact that I didn't enlarge this one than anything else.

I was excited about taking the picture for the third year, especially because the eclipse was going to make the moon look blood red, but alas, it was completely overcast here. We set the alarm for the middle of the night and my husband got up and looked, but no luck. When I got up a little after four this morning, however, I noticed light coming in the window, and sure enough, most of the clouds were gone,

It was cold last year on March 28, but nowhere near as cold as it was this morning on April 15.  I like this picture pretty well, but my granddaughter completely outdid me. Of course, she has a great camera and was in Arizona where the skies were clear.

And then, she's a much better photographer.

And then there's my Paschal Moon poem.

How to discern the Sunday on which falls
The feast on which our Saviour rose to life?
An ancient quandary leads us yet to strife
And disagreement unity forestalls.

The full moon past spring day when sun has crossed
The line that separates the south from north
Now causes separation to go forth
‘Til East and West the common feast have lost.

Which Moon is that Ecclesiastical?
Now Rome will look to Gregory to learn
The answer while the Orthodox will turn
To Julius to discern when this Moon’s full.

The Moon herself oblivious to blame
Reveals her face and does not feel the shame.


Photo credit: My granddaughter, Tessa Love, took the top picture from a moving car on the way home from church, and the bottom picture, also.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Armadio degli Argenti

In the 13th century, a monk by the name of Fra Bartolomeo was painting a picture of the Annunciation in the church of Santissima Annunziata, the motherhouse of the Servite order. Reportedly, he was unhappy with his portrayal of the Blessed Mother's head, and while he was sleeping, an angel came and finished the picture for him. This is the miraculous picture.

I would like to ask a few questions about this picture. I would especially like to know why the angel's arms are crossed, but I digress.

This miracle at Santissima Annunziata was soon followed by others attributed to the picture, and as the church became the center of a wide-spread devotion, the motherhouse became the recipient of many donations, including a great many silver devotional objects. This generous accumulation of silver required a suitable repository, thus the Armadio degli Argenti (silver chest). In keeping with the magnificence of the silver, Piero de'Medici, who had assumed patronage of the picture, commissioned Fra Angelico to paint a series of panels portraying the major events of the life of Christ for the shutters of the chest.

There were 35 panels (two of the panels are joined to make one image of the Last Judgement) painted by Fra Angelico and his assistants. The panels have been divided and rejoined since they were in the original silver chest, but I believe that this is how they are currently displayed. 

Unfortunately this is the only image of this last panel that I can find, and I can't find the either the Wedding Feast at Cana or the Baptism of Jesus elsewhere. I did find a bigger image of the Transfiguration, and I think it's evident that it must have definitely been done by an assistant, or later artist. It might be for the best that I can't find the other two.

That's about all the time I have tonight, so I'll leave the discussion of the over-arching theme until tomorrow.

As I said last night, my prime source of information is this wonderful book by Diane Cole Ahl, which I just ordered from Amazon and which will be much better than an Easter basket.

The story of the miraculous image of the Annunciation was found here.

And I also want to mention that although I have always loved the work of Fra Angelico, I never had heard of the Armadio until Angelico Nguyen posted some of the paintings on the Korrektive blog last Easter.