Today's Gospel in Art - Feast Day of Saint Charles Borromeo

Meditating on the Dead Christ, by Giovanni Battista Crespi, il Cerano 1610 © Prado Museum, Madrid

Meditating on the Dead Christ, by Giovanni Battista Crespi, il Cerano 1610 © Prado Museum, Madrid

Gospel of 4th November 2019 - Luke 14: 12-14

Jesus said to his host, one of the leading Pharisees, 'When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.'

Reflection on the Painting

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), Archbishop of Milan and also Cardinal. Together with St Ignatius of Loyola and St Philip Neri, he was one of the leading figures of the Counter-Reformation battle against the Protestant reformation. In that role he was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church, including the founding of purpose built seminaries for the education of priests. Being a seminarian now myself, this is of course very relevant directly to me. However, his love for the arts and using art as a tool to evangelise are equally important and dear to me.

The Protestant Reformation almost entirely rejected the existing tradition of Catholic art. Rather than the Catholic Church changing it's course and maybe toning down its love for art, Charles Borromeo saw the value in art and 'turned it up a notch' to really use art in the fight against the Reformation that was sweeping through Europe, continuing to encourage religious art, insisting it was strictly religious in content, glorifying God and Catholic traditions, including the sacraments and the saints. So a lot of the art we look at here on a daily basis, is there thanks to St Charles Borromeo, St Ignatius and St Philip Neri. They understood the power of art, the message it can convey and the beauty which can bring people physically into the church buildings, closer to the tabernacle, closer to the presence of Christ. Beauty leading the way to bring people closer to God, and leading people into the mystery of our faith…

To read on see:

Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, St Charles Borromeo, Giovanni Battista Crespi

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