Today's Gospel in Art - You also are to testify

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Saint Francis preaching to the Birds, by Albert Chevallier Tayler 1898, © Christian Art

Saint Francis preaching to the Birds, by Albert Chevallier Tayler 1898, © Christian Art

Gospel of 18th May 2020 - John 15:26-16:4

Jesus said to the disciples, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you."

Reflection on the Painting

Yesterday we looked at a beautiful painting of Our Lady, and today we are looking at a portrait of Saint Francis. In today's Gospel reading Jesus is asking us to be His witnesses. It reminded me of Saint Francis of Assisi's line where he tells us: 'It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching'. From these few words and by the example of how Saint Francis lived his life, he showed his deep commitment to the proclamation and witnessing that Christ is calling us to today.

In our late 19th century painting, we see a bare-footed Saint Francis, hands folded, preaching to the birds. Saint Francis is flanked by poppies. Poppies in art are symbolic of death because of the blood-red colour of the flower. Within a Christian context it alludes to the blood of Christ. Saint Francis is preaching whilst being immersed in the mystery of Christ's sacrifice for us.

To bear witness and testify is not easy in our time. But Christ reassures us in our reading that the Holy Spirit will support us in giving witness. The overall feeling that permeates through this reading, is that Jesus wants to be with us, he enjoys being with us, he encourages us and deeply cares about His friendship with us… therefore our witnessing is just merely talking about our friendship with him… Just like Saint Francis did in a beautiful, gentle and simple way.


Today's story -

Christian Art Today -

and Holy Week through 100 paintings -

Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Albert Chevallier Tayler , St Francis, Saint Francis of Assisi

We Need Your Support

ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.

Please support our journalism by donating today.