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.


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