Monday, May 25, 2015

Giotto: The Virtues and Vices ~ Despair


I'm beginning this with a longer-than-usual quote defining despair because I think it's important to understand what it is and what it isn't.
Despair, ethically regarded, is the voluntary and complete abandonment of all hope of saving one's soul and of having the means required for that end. It is not a passive state of mind: on the contrary it involves a positive act of the will by which a person deliberately gives over any expectation of ever reaching eternal life. There is presupposed an intervention of the intellect in virtue of which one comes to decide definitely that salvation is impossible. This last is motivated by the persuasion either that the individual's sins are too great to be forgiven or that it is too hard for human nature to cooperate with the grace of God or that Almighty God is unwilling to aid the weakness or pardon the offenses of his creatures, etc.  
 It is obvious that a mere anxiety, no matter how acute, as to the hereafter is not to be identified with despair. This excessive fear is usually a negative condition of soul and adequately discernible from the positive elements which clearly mark the vice which we call despair. The pusillanimous person has not so much relinquished trust in God as he is unduly terrified at the spectacle of his own shortcomings of incapacity. 
Despair as such and as distinguished from a certain difference, sinking of the heart, or overweening dread is always a mortal sin. Catholic Encyclopedia
There is, too, another still more objectionable sort of dejection, which produces in the guilty soul no amendment of life or correction of faults, but the most destructive despair: which did not make Cain repent after the murder of his brother, or Judas, after the betrayal, hasten to relieve himself by making amends, but drove him to hang himself in despair. Institutes, Book IX, John Cassian
The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption: (1864) By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice—for the Lord is faithful to his promises—and to his mercy.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2091

Despair seems to have let go of all hope. Her hands are clenched but holding on to nothing. Her hair is loose. Unfortunately, this picture seems to have been deliberately defaced. The sash from which she hangs is almost totally obliterated, as is her face. What's all too clear, though, it that demon who has come to snatch her immediately to hell. Even though he has been partially damaged, there is no mistaking his malice. Look at that claw in her hair.

The visible part of the inscription reads:
Instar cordis desperati Sathan ducta suffocati/Et gehenne sic dampnati tenet haec figura.
My friend, Paul Arblaster, translates this as, "This figure holds the image of a desperate heart suffocated by Satan's leadership and so damned to Hell." That is so very sad. 

Most of the people that we know who seem to be despairing, and even those who commit suicide, are not really committing the sin of despair, which, as the definition says, is a very deliberate choice. They are suffering from that anxiety that the quote describes. Still, every once in a great while, I have met someone who is deliberately rejecting hope--almost setting up their own sins as idols. It's chilling.

Instead of posting about Charity next, I'm going to change my usual order and post on Envy next. Envy is very nasty indeed, and I don't want to end on that note, and I also wanted to save the best for last.


Sunday, May 24, 2015


Pentecost, Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel

Sequence for Pentecost

Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come, 
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine.

Come, Thou Father of the poor,
Come, Thou source of all our store,
Come, within our bosoms shine.

Thou of Comforters the best,
Thou the soul's most welcome guest,
Sweet refreshment here below.

In our labor rest most sweet,
Grateful coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.

Where Thou art not, man hath naught
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
On our dryness pour Thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

On Thy faithful who adore,
And confess Thee evermore,
In Thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give them virtue's sure reward,
Give them Thy salvation, Lord,
Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia.

The fresco for Pentecost is reminiscent of the one of the Last Supper. If you look at them carefully, you can see that the clothing is the same. That must be Matthias on the far right in the Pentecost painting. You can recognize this clothing in some of the other images of the apostles, too. For instance, at the washing of the feet,

and the Ascension. The clothing is, in fact, more consistent than the faces. 

 If you look at the faces of the apostles in the picture of Pentecost, you can see that some are gazing up, some have a rather dazed look on their faces, and two in the lower right-hand corner are looking at each other in wonder. You may have noticed that Giotto does not include Mary in the picture.

I'll put it here so you won't have to scroll up.

Giotto painted two other pictures of Pentecost, one which regrettably has been damaged. at the Church of St. Francis in Assisi, 

Mary is pictured in this one, but her face has been destroyed. I don't know if this damage was caused by the earthquake in 1997, but assume it was. I would also assume that is has been restored, as has the entire basilica, but I can't find any pictures of the restoration of this fresco.

There is also an egg tempera painting on a poplar panel that is currently in the National Gallery in London. It is quite different from the others, and again, Mary is missing.

Once again, all these images were found at the Web Gallery of Art.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: The Spirit and the Bride Say Come

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water. Revelation 22:7

The Wise and Foolish Virgins, Jan Adam Kruseman
I knew there wasn't much hope of finding an image of the Holy Spirit and a bride that didn't look kind of cheesy, but I did find this which seems oddly appropriate.

And this which was just too beautiful not to post.

Detail of The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow 
And it's this to which we are called.

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb from the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck
I will not at this time write about this picture at the great length at which I am able, but I probably will at sometime in the future. If you would like to look at it greater detail, you can do that at the Web Gallery of Art or at several other places online.
Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen. Prayer from Day 9 of Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Paul

St. Paul Preaching in Corinth
Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men. Acts 19:1-7
Now to be perfectly honest, this is not Paul preaching in Ephesus; it is Paul preaching in Corinth, but there were no pictures of Paul preaching in Ephesus that I could find. There is a picture of Paul working miracles in Ephesus, so surely the Holy Spirit was there, too. 

Miracles of St.Paul at Ephesus, Jean Restout
And here is a picture of Paul preaching.

Painting of Paul from Cave of St. Paul in Ephesus, ca. 450 AD
A bit further on in Acts, Paul tells of another action of the Holy Spirit in his life.
But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. “But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again." Acts 20:22-25
Once again, the Holy Spirit brings a message that isn't what one would want to hear, but Paul is steadfast. He knows that soon he will suffer, but he has suffered before in the cause of Christ and is willing to do so again. I wonder if never seeing his friends again wasn't one of his greatest sorrows. That last line is so very sad. When I read it Mass I teared up a bit.

Martyrdom of St. Paul, Stefaneschi Altarpiece, Giotto 
I looked quite a while before I found a picture of St. Paul's martyrdom that I liked, and then when I finally found out who the artist was, it turned out to be Giotto. 

Paul's severed head lies looking heavenward. It's interesting to see that a severed head retains its halo. The angels mourn his death . . .

but who is that woman on the hill, and what is that white thing that she is casting into the air to be carried away in the wind?

The Web Gallery of Art says that this is "a maiden" and that the cloth is one that has soaked up the blood of Paul. It flies up to heaven where it is a awaited by an eager recipient.

Is this the Father? I don't know. He looks like he should be the Father, but he has wings. Maybe it's an angel appointed to take the cloth to the Father. He is in a mandala that is being carried by the angels.
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen Prayer from Day 8 of  Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Breath

Appearance Behind Closed Doors, Duccio di Buoninsegna
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again,l “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” John 20:19-23
This painting looks like the exact opposite of its name, but we will just have to trust that Jesus and the apostles are inside. I really wanted to find a picture of Jesus breathing on the apostles. I know have seen one, but I have looked for days in every place I can think of and can't find anything. This is the first appearance of Jesus to His disciples after the Resurrection and this is the only picture I can find of this appearance.  There is some debate about this scripture as to whether this is another description of Pentecost, or if the apostles received the Holy Spirit here in some different way. I certainly don't know. It was, however, during this appearance that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Christ Taking Leave of His Disciples, Duccio di Buoninsegna
This, alas, is not a picture of Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit on his Apostles, but it seems as if it would be a fair representation of it. The quiet reflective mood of the apostles and they way they seem to be hanging on every word that Jesus speaks is what you would expect of a group of men being instructed by someone who has returned from the grave, and sending them on a grave mission without him.
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Prayer from Day 7 of Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Baptism

Baptism of Christ, Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
At first I thought that Giotto once more portrays the Holy Spirit only as light, but then I noticed this.

If you look very closely, you can see the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove over the head of Jesus. It must have been more visible before this fresco lost much of its lapis lazuli. 

And look at John's hand. We see the same hand position that I talked about in the hand of the angel here.

In this fresco, angels watch intently from the left bank, holding the garments of Jesus. We recognize those robes as those he wears in the other frescoes. John the Baptist wears some sort of ceremonial robe over his rough garments, and behind him stand who? I thought that the man with the halo might be one of the disciples, and somewhere, I can't remember where, someone said he is Andrew. I also first thought that the person in blue was Mary, but I noticed the figure has no halo, and then I noticed he seems to have a little beard--definitely not Mary, but who? I think I could spend a year doing research on these images.

The mosaic below is from the Baptistery of the Basilica of St. Mark (San Marco) in Venice. It's the same basilica where the mosaic of the Holy Spirit in the waters of creation is found. 

Baptism of Jesus, Baptistry of the Basilica of St. Mark, Venice
Here we see the three angels (in red socks!), and John, again wearing some sort of covering over his camel's hair. Behind John is an ax laid, as in Matthew 3:10, to the trunk of a tree.

The Holy Spirit hovers above the head of Jesus and Jesus, being blessed by the Father, the Spirit and John, is holding his hand in the water in the same position mentioned above, blessing all the waters of the world.

And who is this in the water with him in danger of drowning?

I believe that it is a soul, my soul maybe, or yours, perishing in sin, who will be saved by the blessed water.
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen. Prayer from Day 6 of  Novena to the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Overshadowing

Annunciation, Fra Filippo Lippi
I wrote about this painting of the Annunciation in December. I think that this small, almost unnoticeable image of the Holy Spirit might be my favorite.

The Holy Spirit never calls attention to Himself, He is always calling our attention to the Lord, working behind the scenes to fill us with grace. This, I suspect, is why it is so hard to find pictures of the Holy Spirit doing the things he did in the scriptures. There are also remarkably few prayers to the Holy Spirit, and despite about 50 years of the Charismatic Renewal, there aren't that many songs about the Holy Spirit either. 

I chose to put the Annunciation at the center of this novena because it is the apex of the action of the Holy Spirit between Creation and coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Everything before the Annunciation led up to the Incarnation of Our Lord and everything after proceeds from it. And nobody knew.

In Giotto's frescoes of the Annunciation in the Scrovegni Chapel the only indication of the Holy Spirit is a barely visible light shining on Mary from above. 

The Annunciation, Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel
Mary and Gabriel aren't even in the same space. Their little rooms are on either side of an arch, below a scene of the God the Father sending Gabriel to Mary. The drawn curtains indicate that we are seeing something that is usually hidden. Unlike most scenes of the Annunciation which are filled with symbols, these spaces are bare except for Mary's reading desk. This desk is almost ubiquitous in paintings of the Annunciation, but usually there is a copy of the scriptures, a book or a scroll sitting on it. In this image, the desk is bare but Mary holds the book which she has been reading. Her face is the face of a woman deep in thought. Gabriel holds a scroll. He brings the message of salvation. The expression on his face is intent and urgent. Unlike Mary, who receives the light, he is radiating light.
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen. Prayer from Day 5, Novena to the Holy Spirit

Monday, May 18, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Ezekiel

Ezekiel, Michaelangelo, Sistine Chapel
Then he said to me, Son of man, take into your heart all my words that I speak to you; hear them well. Now go to the exiles, to your own people, and speak to them. Say to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear: Thus says the LORD God! Then the spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling noise as the glory of the LORD rose from its place: the noise of the wings of the living creatures beating against one another, and the noise of the wheels alongside them, a loud rumbling. And the spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went off, my spirit angry and bitter, for the hand of the LORD pressed hard on me. Ezekiel 3:10-14
I searched high and low for a picture of the spirit lifting Ezekiel, but only found pictures of his vision. This is what was making all the noise that Ezekiel describes.

Ezekiel's Vision, Raphael
I love Ezekiel's face in the fresco by Michaelango. You can see the anger and bitterness he felt from the Lord's hand pressing hard on him. Look at the set of his mouth, and the posture of his body, and that hand.

I really like this scripture because it emphasizes how God's Word, when it comes to us, doesn't always seem to be a blessing. I think of Jeremiah saying, "You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me." I can remember hearing that scripture from Jeremiah 20 at Mass one Sunday, and thinking, "Amen to that." Thing is, I don't remember how he duped me now, or anything about the situation.
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen. Prayer from Day 4 of Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: David

Anointing of David, Synagogue of Duro-Europos
Jesse had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking. The LORD said: There—anoint him, for this is the one! Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. Then Samuel set out for Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:12-13
Again, we can't see the Holy Spirit in this image, but we know the ways in which David was empowered by his anointing. He was brave and mighty in battle and compassionate and just (most of the time) but his great strength was his great love for God. That makes the prayer for today  (below) particularly appropriate.

The Synagogue at Duro Europos in Syria was discovered in 1920. I've been trying to remember what I learned about this in my early Christian Art class, but I find that's not much. The fact that the walls are covered with biblical illustrations is very important because it is so unusual to have illustrations in a Jewish temple due to the restrictions of the Second Commandment. It is one of the oldest synagoges in the world. Wikipedia says that there is an Aramaic inscription that has been dated to 224 AD, and everything I've read puts it in the early third century.

The most helpful article I found is here. Author, Adam Blitz, writes of the temple's discovery during the Arab Revolt of 1920. The frescoes are currently (or were when this post was written) in the National Museum of Damascus, and when Blitz wrote this post in 2013 he was concerned about their safety during the Syrian uprising. I don't know if they are still safe. I hope so. I was happy to see that I can't find anything on the internet that would indicate otherwise.

You can see more of the images at Wikipedia Commons.
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen. Prayer from Day 3Novena to the Holy Spirit

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Come, Holy Spirit: Samson

When the Holy Spirit comes, He is seldom visible; usually we can only see the results of His presence.

From the Via Latina Catacomb
So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother. When he turned aside to the vineyards of Timnah, a young lion came roaring out toward him. But the spirit of the LORD rushed upon Samson, and he tore the lion apart barehanded, as one tears a young goat. Judges 14:5-6

Detail from Madonna with St. Dominic, St. George, and the Founder of the Church, Jan van Eyck
This grisaille image is only a small part of a painting which you have probably seen a time or two. It shows up on Christmas cards. Samson is on the right-hand arm of Mary's chair.

 Madonna with St. Dominic, St. George, and the Founder of the Church, Jan van Eyck
When I started this I told myself, "ONE picture per post." I don't know why I lie to myself this way.

Samson Fighting the Philistines, Via Latina Catacomb
When he reached Lehi, and the Philistines came shouting to meet him, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon him: the ropes around his arms became like flax that is consumed by fire, and his bonds melted away from his hands. Coming upon the fresh jawbone of an ass, he reached out, grasped it, and with it killed a thousand men. Judges 15:14-15
Now, when you think about it, you might not just want to run out there and kill a lion or a thousand men. Neither of these stories makes me particularly anxious to invoke the Holy Spirit, but then there's the principle that,
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
 I have to think about what it is that I can learn from these scriptures. One thing is obvious, and that is that the Holy Spirit is not to be taken lightly. There is real power at work here.
Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever, help me to shun all things that can offend You, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Your Divine Majesty in heaven, where You live and reign in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen. Prayer from Day 2 of Novena to the Holy Spirit.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Come Holy Spirit: Creation

First Day of Creation, from the Capella Palatina di Palermo
In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
I've been thinking that I would like to do something in preparation for Pentecost, but I don't want to post a novena, so this is what I have decided to do. I'm going to find illustrations for nine appearances of the Holy Spirit found in the scriptures and post one every day, and here is the first. I guess it will be a kind of visual novena. You can't get any more first than Genesis 1. I don't think that it's any accident that within the first three verses of the Gospel we see the entire Trinity at work. Verse three begins, "And God said . . . ."

This one is from the dome of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice.

You can see the Holy Spirit at the 9:00 o'clock position. I guess that's appropriate--9:00 o'clock in the morning, although it's only there because of the direction from which the picture was taken.

You can see a slideshow of enlarged pictures by clicking on any picture ONCE. If you double-click, you won't get anywhere.
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen. Prayer from Day 1 of Novena to Holy Spirit

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lifting Up His Hands

Then he led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:50-53
The Lord ascends with both halo and mandala shining around Him, arms raised and gaze intent on Heaven. Does this picture look familiar?

The bodies are in virtually the same position. It makes me think of this passage from Colossians 1, "But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory."

From heaven, the angels and Old Testament saints look on with hands raised, following Jesus to Heaven. 

The saints are in the top row. I'm don't know who they all are, but I'm pretty sure that the young man closest to Jesus on the left must be John the Baptist (a New Testament saint, really, but one who bridges the Old and New Covenants), and I would guess the man opposite him is Abraham. Perhaps Adam and Eve are at the far left of the upper row. These figures are poorly executed with their tiny arms and big heads. They look a bit like bobble-head dolls. They contrast greatly with the fine craftsmanship of Jesus and Hope. Some of the painting in the chapel was done by assistants, and I suspect that this is an example of their work.

At the bottom, we see Mary and the Eleven watching Our Lord for the last time in this life. How many different emotions they must have been experiencing! I think that might be John behind Mary, and Peter directly across from her--both for obvious reasons. For a few minutes, I wondered what those strange shapes are that we see over some of the apostles heads.

Then I realized that they are holding their hands over their heads to shield their eyes from the Lord's glory.

And finally, we have the "two men in white garments," who say:
Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven. Acts 1:11
I don't have much to say about them except that they are the only figures in the fresco who are looking down and not up, and, regrettably, the one on the right puts me forcibly in mind of the dreadful blue/white/gold/black dress dilemma. (I'll probably remove that last part when I save this for posterity.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Giotto: The Virtues and Vices ~ Hope


. . . a Divine virtue by which we confidently expect, with God's help, to reach eternal felicity as well as to have at our disposal the means of securing it. It is said to be Divine not merely because its immediate object is God, but also because of the special manner of its origin. Hope, such as we are here contemplating, is an infused virtue; ie., it is not, like good habits in general, the outcome of repeated acts or the product of our own industry. Like supernatural faith and charity it is directly implanted in the soul by Almighty God. Catholic Encyclopedia
The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied. Tractates on the first letter of John ( Tract r: PL 35, 2008-9) Augustine
A hour...and we shall have reached the port! My God, what shall we see then? What is that life which will never have an end?...Jesus will be the Soul of our soul. Unfathomable mystery! "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what great things God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9). And this will all come soon - yes, very soon, if we ardently love Jesus. St. Therese, VI Letter to Her Sister Celine
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis

Nothing complicated here. Here we see Hope, reaching heavenward, eyes wide opened and focused intensely on her goal. Everything flies heavenward, even her hair and peplum. She has no attachment to the things of this earth. She wears no earthly head covering, but reaches for the crown of glory. 

And look at this angel.

Look at the tender and welcoming expression on the angel's face. 

The inscription reads:
Spe depicta sub figura hoc signature quod mens pura, Spe fulcita non clausura terrenorum clauditur. Sed a Christo coronanda sursum volat sic reanda. Et in celis sublimanda fore firma redditur.
Or at least that's what the books say it says, and I think a couple of the words must be wrong, the first being fulcita which I cannot find anywhere, and which I can't even see in enlargements, and the second being reanda. I'm pretty sure the r is a b and the end of the word doesn't look right either. So this is my best (clunky) guess.
Hope depicted by this figure will be the sign of a pure mind, Hope ??? not confined by earthly cloister, but she will be crowned by Christ, she flies upward and so is blessed, and having been raised to Heaven she will be rewarded.