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Gospel in Art: There was a blind man sitting at the side of the road

  • Father Patrick van der Vorst

Christ Revealed, by Felice Tagliaferri,  2011 © Felice Tagliaferri / Museo Archeologico di Napoli

Christ Revealed, by Felice Tagliaferri, 2011 © Felice Tagliaferri / Museo Archeologico di Napoli

Source: Christian Art

Gospel of 20 November 2023
Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.' The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, 'Son of David, have pity on me.' Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' 'Sir,' he replied 'let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.' And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

Reflection on the contemporary sculpture

In today's Gospel we read of Jesus healing a blind man. We can hear that this blind man was very determined to be healed. He called out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.' A similar resilience and single-mindedness can be found in blind contemporary artist Felice Tagliaferri.

If you have been to Naples, you may have visited the 'Cristo Velato' (Veiled Christ) sculpture, made by Giuseppe Sammartino (1720-1793) in 1753, which depicts Christ lying under the shroud. The effect of a thin veil is masterfully sculpted in stone. As with most artworks on public display, it is not allowed to be touched. And so our contemporary artist Felice Tagliaferri, blind since the age of 14, was not allowed to touch the sculpture, even though he had heard and read about the magnificence of the sculpture for so long.

Even after explaining he was an artist himself, he still was refused permission to get close to the artwork, forbidden to touch. He was left deeply disappointed. It was this incident which inspired the blind artist to create his own version of the Veiled Christ. He titled his own work Cristo Rivelato (Revealed Christ), as something powerful was revealed to him sculpting the work. A veil had been lifted by sculpting a veil!

The quality of his work, executed in white Carrara marble, is striking. It is remarkably close to the 1753 original, all based on what people told the artist about what the original looked like. Far from having a 'hands-off' policy for his own sculpture, Felice wants the viewer to touch his statue. In fact, he said, 'You are forbidden not to touch!'

Above all, the blind man shows us not only how to seek the Lord's mercy but also how to respond after receiving it: 'He followed him, praising God'....


Gospel in Art:
Today's Reflection:


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