Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread From Heaven, Part II

The Master of Edward IV, The Last Supper and Isrealites Collecting Manna
From Speculum humanae salvationis
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1485
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 6275, fol. 17v
“The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
"I am the bread that came down from heaven, "
and they said,
"Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
'I have come down from heaven'?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

John 6:41-51 (Gospel for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, August 12, 2018)


In the prior essay, Prefiguring Salvation – Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part I, we looked at the first images in Christian art that combined the image of the Israelites receiving the gift of manna from heaven and the miracles in which Jesus is said to have prefigured, or hinted at, his power over matter and pointed forward to the greatest miracle of all, his gift of himself in the Eucharist.  We also examined instances in which the scene of God's salvation through the provision of manna and quail in the desert was often combined with other Old Testament scenes that also carried, for Christians, an additional meaning, referring to Christ's sacrificial self-offering.

The church spreads the words of John the Evangelist over the Gospels read on four successive Sundays during this month of August in Year B (or Liturgical Year 2018).  We continue in our second essay to look at those images that combine the incident of the manna with New Testament scenes that reveal its deeper meaning.  

The Miracle of the Manna Paired with New Testament Scenes

By far the largest number of pairing with images of the fall and gathering of the manna are made with New Testament images that underline Jesus as the living Bread of Life, given for all at his death and still available to his living disciples today.

In Books

These images were frequently used in liturgical books and in prayer books and, during the middle ages and early Renaissance periods, in works that were popular with a largely still illiterate or minimally literate public, where instruction was given through the use of images. These were popular works like the Speculum humanae salvationis and the Biblia Pauperum, which survive in huge quantities that testify to their immense popularity.
Last Supper and Gathering of Manna
From Speculum humanae salvationis
Italian (Bologna), c. 1350-1400
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Arsenal 593 [ff. 1-42], fol. 18
Master of the Hours of Margaret of Cleves,Abraham and Melchizedek, The Last Supper, The Fall of Manna
From Biblia pauperum
Dutch, c. 1405_
London, British Library
MS King's 5, fol. 10
The Rambures Master, Abraham and Melchisedec, the Last Supper, The Gathering of Manna
From Biblia pauperum
French (Amiens), c.1470
The Hague, Meermano Museum
MS RMMW 10 A 15, fol. 28v

The Isrealites Collecting Manna and the Eucharist in a Monstrance
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Tournai), 1535
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 74 G 9, fol. 88v-89r

Here the equation of the manna with the Eucharist, as experienced by the Christian believer, is made pointedly manifest.  The scene of the collection of the miraculous manna is paired, not with the scene of the Last Supper, but with the consecrated Host displayed for adoration in a monstrance.  It is interesting that the date of this Book of Hours is 1535, almost 20 years after the date of Luther's famous 95 Theses, and therefore well within the opening rounds in the debate over the nature of the Eucharist between Catholics and Protestants.  By replacing the traditional scene of the Last Supper with the consecrated Host, in the monstrance, the painter and his or her patron were taking a stand for the Catholic belief.

In Large Scale Paintings

Even more importantly, the pairings with New Testament scenes often formed part of the surroundings for a another, often central image (for an altarpiece, for example).  The images surrounding the main image, of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion or the Supper at Emmaus, for instance, would frequently include both the Old Testament “foreshadowing” and the related and the New Testament scenes.   The surrounding images could be found in the other panels of an altarpiece with foldable arms or in the predella (area below the main image) in those that are stationary. 


Dieric Bouts the Elder, Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament
Dutch, c. 1464-1467
Leuven, Sint-Pieterskerk
Surrounding the central image of the Last Supper are scenes that prefigure aspects of the Eucharistic mystery:  the meeting between Abraham and Melchisedek and the Passover Meal on the left side; the gathering of the Manna and the angel urging Elijah not not give up hope in his desert wanderings.  The Eucharist is our offering of thanksgiving to God, it is the sign of our salvation, it is our spiritual food that gives us hope for the future.
Ercole de' Roberti, Last Supper
Door from a Tabernacle
Italian, c. 1490s
London, National Gallery
Ercole de' Roberti, Isarealites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1490s
London, National Gallery
This painting, of Israelites gathering manna, forms the predella just below the tabernacle door of the Last Supper shown above.  
Antwerp Mannerist Painter, Altarpiece with Last Supper Scene set between the Meeting of Abraham and Melchisedek
and the Miracle of the Manna
Flemish, c. 1515-1520
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Follower of Pieter Coecke van Aelst,  The Pagny Altarpiece in the open position
Flemish, c. 1532-1535
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
(The Pagny Altarpiece (above) whose wings were come from the workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, one of the leading Flemish Mannerist painters, depicts events from the life of Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary.  The narratives run from left to right, with those from the life of Mary on the lower of the two levels.  It begins at the far lower left wing with the Annunciation and runs across the entire span of the altarpiece with the Visitation, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Presentation in the Temple, the Adoration of the Magi, The Massacre of the Innocents and the Rest on the Flight into Egypt.  The upper level includes scenes from the Passion, beginning at the upper left with the Betrayal of Christ, Christ Before Pilate, the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Deposition, the Entombment and the Resurrection.  When closed the wings depict events from the life of Christ, such as the Baptism and Miracles.  The predella, at the bottom, which remains the same whether the wings are open or shut, is our concern.  Its central motif is the Last Supper, with the Meeting of Abraham and Melchisedek on the left and the Israelites collecting manna on the right.) 
Or depictions of the gift of manna and its Old and New Testament parallels may be found as images on the walls of churches or chapels, near the altar.  


Tintoretto, The Miracle of the Manna
Italian, c. 1577
Venice, Scuola Grande di San Rocco







































Tintoretto, The Last Supper
Italian, c. 1579-1581
Venice, Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Isrealites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1740-1742
Verolanuova, Parochial Church
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Sacrifice of Melchizedek
Italian, c. 1740-1742
Verolanuova, Parochial Chruch

























They might also be found as images on tapestries and even on the vestments of the priests celebrating the Mass.  


After Heironymus Wierix, Chasuble with Gathering of Manna
Dutch, 1570
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tapestry After Design by Alessandro Allori, Gathering of Manna
Italian, c. 1595-1596
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The New Testament reference is underlined by the Eucharistic symbol of the Host and Chalice at the center of the top border.
Peter Paul Rubens, Gathering of Manna
Flemish, c. 1625
Sarasota (FL), The Ringling Museum

Pedagogical Uses of the Parallels with Old and New Testament Scenes

In a certain sense, all of the combinations of the episode of the miraculous feeding of the Jews in the desert, which we have described above, can be considered have an educational purpose in a society which was largely illiterate or semi-literate.  As literacy grew, the teaching can be seen to have left the walls (though never completely) and transferred itself into books.  Printed books could more easily reach far more people than a single manuscript could ever hope to do, and at far less cost.  Printed works, both luxurious and commonplace, continued to carry these ideas. 

So, for instance, we have an exquisite 17th-century work, such as the emblem book titled La vérité à la place des ombres, prepared for the Duchesse de Montpensier, cousin of Louis XIV, in which printing and hand illumination work well together.  In the book, an entire section, pages 96 through 138 are devoted to La manne, figure de la sacreé Eucharistie

La Manne figure de la sacre Eucharistie
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M21, fol. 92r
Manna Falling in the Camp
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M21, fol. 106r




























Israelites Gathering Manna
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M21, fol. 114r
Israelites Taste the Manna
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont
MS M21, fol. 122r



























Israelites Eating the Manna
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M21, fol. 138r
Manna Gathered for the Altar
From La vérité à la place des ombres
French, 1679
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M21, fol. 130r
























Later Examples

Nor did the combination of Eucharistic references to Old Testament pre-figuration in churches for purposes of education and meditation end with the Baroque period. 

From approximately 200 years after printing of the book above, we have a certificate of the Sacraments of Initiation for a young person named Leblanc (the first name is difficult to read), who was baptized in February 1880, received First Holy Communion on April 24, 1892 and was Confirmed a couple of weeks later, on May 4, 1892.2

Souvenir of First Holy Communion
French, 1892
Nuits-Saint-Georges, Musée municipal

This particular certificate is a virtual Catechism lesson in Eucharistic iconography.  The Paschal Lamb is the topmost item.  At the center is the Last Supper.  Surrounding this image are:  at the top, the Passover (left), the Manna in the desert (right).  Immediately below the image of the Last Supper is that of the Pelican in its piety, a powerful symbol of Christ’s Passion and of His Charity.  It was believed that, when food was scarce, pelicans used their beaks to pierce their own breasts so that their chicks could drink their blood for nourishment.  To either side of the Pelican are two levels of images.  Those on the upper layer are drawn from the New Testament miracles of Jesus.  On the left is the miracle of Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.  On the right is the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus fed 5,000 with a few fish and loaves of bread.  Those on the lower layer depict the sacraments to which the certificate pertains.  On the left is Baptism, where a baby, in the arms of his or her godmother is being baptized.  On the right, is Confirmation, where a bishop anoints the head of a young man, as his sponsor upholds him. Such certificates were produced in thousands and continue to be.  A small amount of research on the internet revealed prices running from $25 to $50 for a pack of 100.  Today, you can even buy (or create) one of your own and print it!


When members of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament were planning the decoration of their first church building in the United States, back in 1910 in New York, they turned to the didactic themes that had served so well throughout the history of Christian art in the West.  As their primary focus for mission is the Eucharist, they chose to present the moments in the life of Christ that either forecast the gift of himself in the Eucharist or its pre-figuration in both the Old and New Testaments. 

The principal decoration for their church of Saint Jean Baptiste in New York is its main altar and its windows.  The windows were commissioned from the atelier of Charles Lorin in Chartres, France and executed between 1910 and 1914.  Trapped in Europe during the First World War, where they were kept underground to protect them from shelling and early aerial bombardment, they were not placed in the windows until 1920.  
Charles Lorin Atelier, Marriage Feast at Cana
French, c. 1912-1914
New York, Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste
Lower level nave
Charles Lorin Atelier, Sacrifice of Melchisedech
French, c. 1912-1914
New York, Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste
Upper level nave



























In the church, the New Testament activities are shown in the widows of the nave, chapels and apse, the spaces inhabited by the congregation and clergy.  The corresponding Old Testament scenes appear above them.  For more on this, please see “The Charles Lorin Stained Glass Windows at St. Jean Baptiste Church, New York”, where they are described in greater detail with multiple pictures.

Charles Lorin Atelier, Last Supper
French, c. 1912-1914
New York, Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste
Lower level apsidal chapel

Charles Lorin Atelier, First Passover
French, c. 1912-1914
New York, Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste
Upper level apsidal chapel
Charles Lorin Atelier, Gathering of Manna
French, c. 1912-1914
New York, Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste
Upper level apsidal chapel




























Continued further with Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread From Heaven, Part III.  Please read all parts of this study to understand all the aspects of this iconography.

___________________________________________________________________

1.  These readings are: 
  • Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:24-35  
  • Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:41-51
  • Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:51-58                                                                  
  • Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6: 60-69
2.  The late age for the reception of First Communion seem strange to us, after 100 or so years of reception occurring around the age of 7-9.  However, 12 was pretty much the norm for the period in which this certificate was issued.  The reforms of Pope Pius X were still approximately 20 years in the future.


© M. Duffy, 2018

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.



Prefiguring Salvation –Manna in the Desert and the Bread From Heaven, Part I

The Master of the Hours of Margaret of Cleves,Fall of Manna
From Biblia pauperum
Dutch, c. 1405_
London, British Library_MS King's 5, fol. 10
“When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
"Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Jesus answered them and said,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."
So they said to him,
"What can we do to accomplish the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."
So they said to him,
"What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat."
So Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world."


So they said to him,
"Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them,
"I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

John 6:24-35 (Gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, August 5, 2018)

On the eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the church began a series of Gospel readings, extending over the next three Sundays, that tell us of the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ revelations regarding his intent to share his eternal life with humanity.1  Several times he tells them how, through his self-sacrifice and through his establishment of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, he will accomplish this.  He offers them the “true bread from heaven”, which is himself, his own flesh and blood, and does this through reference to the account of one of the miracles given by God to the Israelites during their forty years of wandering.  These miracles, found in Genesis, Chapters 16 and 17, and are manna and quail, both of which God gives them from the sky, and water from the barren rock, struck by Moses at God’s command (Exodus 17:3-7). 

In this first of the series of Gospel readings the scene for this teaching is set immediately after Jesus has miraculously fed 5,000 people with just a few loaves of bread and some fish.  People are, naturally, drawn to him, hoping to get some more, hoping to see the miracle repeated, hoping to see this newest prophet with the amazing powers.  Just hoping…..

Eager to witness a miracle they goad him by asking “What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat." (John 6:30-31) In fact, the Church has chosen the passage from Exodus which presents this exact story, as the first reading for the same Mass of the eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  “The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!  But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!" (Exodus 16:2-3)

In answer Jesus promises them “true bread from heaven” Later, he will make clear that this “true bread” is his own Body and Blood, something that many of them will find hard to understand or to believe in, just as many have struggled with trying to come to terms with this right up to the present day, a struggle that can only be ended by trust in God’s Word.

The connection between the manna of the Old Testament and the Eucharist of the New Testament is an old one, going back to Jesus himself in these Gospel quotations. Many times the Gospels suggest that he mentioned the episode of the manna in preparing his disciples for the gift they would receive at the Last Supper, along with the command to “Do this in memory of me.”


The Miracle of the Manna in Christian Art

It also has, as we shall see, a long tradition in the history of Christian art.  Early Christian art often called attention to pre-figurations of Jesus’ actions that can be found in the Old Testament.  One favorite topic was the story of Jonah andthe Whale.  The three days Jonah spent in the whale’s belly was equated to the time Jesus spent in the tomb before the Resurrection.  Other Old Testament scenes were also seen as pre-figurations of the life and ministry of Jesus. 

In the fourth decade of the fifth century, AD 432, the newly built church of Santa Sabina in Rome received a set of wooden doors carved with scenes from the Old and New Testaments.  These doors still survive in place today, miraculous witnesses to more than 1,500 years of prayer and devotion, but also of wars and “renovations”.  One of the most famous panels on the doors is the very first representation of the Crucifixion.  Another, less well known set of panels depicts three miracles of Jesus, including the feeding of the 5, 000 and the Miracle of Cana, while its companion depicts the Miracles of Moses, including the miracle of the Manna in the desert and the water from the rock. 
Moses in the Wilderness, Miracle of the Quail,
Miracle of the Manna, Water from the Rock
Late Antique/Early Christian, 432
Rome, Church of Sainta Sabina
Miracles of Jesus:  Curing the Blind Man,
Multiplying the Loaves & Fishes,
Changing Water to Wine at Cana
Late Antique/Early Christian, 432
Rome, Church of Santa Sabina



























This proves the point that even as early as 432 this was a firm belief of the church, that the Eucharist/Body of Christ is foretold not only by the actions of important figures in the Old Testament, but also by the actions of Jesus himself in the New.  Consequently, many images of the fall and gathering of the manna in the wilderness are paired with other events, taken from both the Old and New Testaments.

 The Miracle of the Manna Paired with other Old Testament Scenes

When paired with other Old Testament images of actions or events they are understood to forecast actions or events from the life of Jesus, especially events that foretell his sufferings in the Passion and his establishment of the Eucharist.  
Moses Summons Water from the Rock and The Miracle of the Manna
From Old Testament Miniatures
French (Paris), 1244-1255
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M638, fol. 9va
Lest the viewer forget who is the real source of these miracles, a small figure of God looks down from heaven in each.
Master of James IV of Scotland, Israelites Gathering Manna
From the Spinola Hours
Flemish (Ghent), c. 1510-1520
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 8, fol. 49
Here the scene of gathering manna is paired with the meeting between Abraham and the priest-king of Salem, Melchisedek, himself seen as a foreshadowing of Jesus, as his sacrifice of bread and wine foreshadow the Eucharist too.
The Sacrifice of Isaac and the Isrealites Gathering Manna
From a Missal
German (Maria Laach), 1558
London, British Library
MS Harley 2835, fol. 145
The Sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, averted by divine intervention at the last moment, alludes to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus in obedience to his Father's will, while the fall of manna is a foretaste of the Eucharist, the True Bread from heaven.

This study continues in another article, with the images combining the Miracle of the Manna with the events of the life of Jesus from the New Testament.

  • Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part II
  • Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part III
______________________________________________________________________
1,  These readings are: 
  • Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:41-51   
  • Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:51-58                                                                  
  • Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6: 60-69

© M. Duffy, 2018

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.









Sunday, August 12, 2018

Oh My Aching Back!

The Alexander Master, Jesus Curing the Paralytic Woman
From a History Bible
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1430
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 78 D 38, fol. 170r
In the course of the next day or so I will be posting my latest article, which has been a long time in the making.  There has been a long time between this and the last post of any substance.  Several have been begun, but not completed and they will have to wait for another time.

The reason for all this lack of action is my back.  For the last twelve years I have been experiencing the onset and gradual worsening of the condition known as spinal stenosis.  Put very simplistically, that is arthritis of the spine.  It affects the vertebrae and other bony structures of the back.  It has gradually worsened over the years, but a mixture of medication, physiotherapy, massage and a few cortisone shots have helped me maintain an active life, especially since I retired, when the daily trauma of sitting for hours at the computer was removed from it.

Starting in mid-September of last year a series of spectacular falls, only one of which really caused me any serious pain or loss of mobility, may have added to the stress on my lower back, which is where the most damage has been done.  Nevertheless, there was no reason to suspect that anything dreadful was about to happen.

Around the middle of June I began to notice that when I first stood up in the mornings, I had some pain that was not relieved immediately by my "first thing" exercises.  However, on moving around a bit the pain went away.  Then I began to experience some pain on moving from a seated to a standing position.  But, again, once in motion the pain went away.  I continued with my routine daily activities, resolved to mention it to my physiatrist (Specialized MDs whose field is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) at my next appointment at the end of July, following her return from vacation.

Then, came the morning of June 30.  I had gone to bed the night before feeling tired from my normally busy day at one of the Metropolitan Museum's information desks, but no more than tired.  When I tried to get out of bed the following morning, I was in pain.  Trying to stand up was unbelievably painful.  I was completely unable to do it.  The only way in which I was able to walk was bent at a 900 angle.  In that dreadful angle I managed to get through the weekend, while I waited for Monday to speak to a doctor.

Unfortunately, through a series of regrettable occurrences, I had a great deal of difficulty in reaching a doctor who could help me. Everything was compounded by the fact that this butted right up against July 4 and many doctors were on vacation.  I remained in the position of the old woman shown in the manuscript illustration above, bent over at the waist, leaning on a cane for support, for two weeks.  When I emerged from the elevator for the first time, the shock on  the doorman's face was very evident.  Ditto for my internist whom I saw around this time as well.  Since most of the relevant doctors were unavailable the only suggestion around was to go to an emergency room.

The trip to the emergency room was of little help, however,  for the poor resident or intern or PA who saw me could do little for me.   I did eventually get to my physiatrist (a specialized MD who is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) during the second week of July, having already suffered for a full two weeks.  So began the search for a medication that would help with the pain and a search for a more permanent solution.

It took several tries at combinations of medicines to finally reach something that helps.  In the two and a half weeks I've been taking it I have begun to experience a bit less pain.  I still have a great deal in the mornings and walking more than a few feet brings on dreadful, stabbing pain, but I can stand a bit taller, am not so hunched, and can tolerate short distances better.  I can now make it to the garbage chute on my floor, as well as to the elevator, though I still need to collapse in the lobby for a bit.

I have learned the value of car hailing apps, although I still refuse to use Uber or Lyft, in favor of Arro and Curb (which call medallion yellow cabs).  I am using them to transport me door to door for appointments.  And I am leaning as never before on food delivery services, thankful that I live in an ares (Upper East Side of Manhattan) where such services are readily available.  Friends have been filling in the blanks with visits to Trader Joe's (love their garlic roasted hummus) or local groceries and delis.  Other friends have been coming to help by doing the laundry and changing the sheets.  I can never repay their kindness enough.

I am now engaged in interviewing different surgeons to see who will get the prize of operating on my back.  An MRI has revealed that in one area (and one area only) the spinal stenosis has become quite severe (in the rest of me it is described as being "mild" or "moderate".  Basically, there is so much arthritis in this one place that there is no room left for the nerves to pass and they are being painfully compressed.  Should this continue, over time I could lose the use of my left leg.  In addition, I have a herniated disc between two of my vertebrae and the upper of these two vertebrae has also moved (slipped) slightly over the edge of the one below, further squeezing the already over-squeezed nerves.

With all this going on I have found it difficult to complete work on at least two major planned articles.  The one I will present has been long in the planning, but the research for it has had to be done in very small chunks of time, only so much as I can tolerate.  I'm afraid it will be like this for some time to come.

I ask if, in your charity, you will say a prayer for me, that I may find the right surgeon to operate with the right technique to help me continue to live the life I was living up till June 30.  Pray that I find in his or her hands the healing power of Jesus shown in the picture above.  Thank you for your prayers.  

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 Saint Anne Update

Andrea di Bartolo, Saints Joachim and Anna Giving Food to the Poor  and Offerings 
to the Temple
Italian, c. 1400-1405
Washington, National Gallery of Art
July 26th is the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. They, especially St. Anne, have been important saints for most of the life of the Church and are frequently featured in Christian art. 

Over several the years, since my first post in 2011, I have added various images of Saints Anne and Joachim. The number keeps growing because, as the internet has become a more widely available tool, the number of museums and libraries that make their collections available online keeps growing. Further, museums and libraries that made their collections available several years ago continue to release more material from their holdings and to upgrade the quality of those they had already shared as they continue to enhance their online presence. Since Anne and Joachim have been important for so long, we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg of images that probably exist.

Each year I propose to continue to add to the collection of images available through this blog as new ones become accessible. I will link these images with the essays about their iconological type which I did in 2011. 

In addition, in each of these last two years I have identified new subjects within the general "Saints Anne and Joachim" theme.  Last year, for example, I came across several images that fit into a new category that I called "Parental Love". Like pictures that imagine the life of Jesus as a boy in His home in Nazareth, these images imagine the relationship between Mary, as a little girl, and her parents. 

This year I have encountered two pictures that I call "Mystical Reflections".  These differ from earlier images of Mary with her parents in that Mary is presented as the woman of the Apocalypse, the Immaculate Conception instead of as a little girl (even a little girl attended by angels).  Both the pictures belong to the later part of the Counter-Reformation era, in the late 17th to mid-18th centuries.  

So, now I present the 2018 additions to the iconography of St. Anne. Each section heading is also a link to the original article which explains the iconography. Click on the section headings to learn more.

Annunciation of Mary's Birth 
Cristobal de Villalpando, Annunciation of the Angel to Joachim
Mexican, c. 1690-1700
Mexico City, Church of San Felipe Neri
Meeting at the Golden Gate
Luca Giordano, Annunciation of the Angel to St. Joachim and the Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate
Italian, c. 1696
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum
This painting combines the subject matter of the painting just above, the angel's announcement to Joachim that on his return to his wife, she will become pregnant with a special female child, with the joyful meeting of husband and wife at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem.  In the far background one can also see them climbing prayerfully up the the steps of the Temple to thank God for this great gift.
Saint Anne as Teacher (Education of the Virgin)
Education of the Virgin
German, c. 1720-1730
Fuerstenzell, Former Cistercian Church of the Assumption

Anne, the Root of the Tree of Salvation (the Anna selbdritt image)
Anna Selbdritt Wall Painting
German, c. 1446-1455
Lieberhausen, Evangelical Church (painted over in 1589, restored 1911-1913 and 1954)

Niccolo Alunno (Niccolo di Liberatore), Anna Selbdritt with Angels
Italian, c. 1458-1461
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection


Anna Selbdritt between Saint Nicholas and Saint Martin with Donor
German, c. 1500-1515
Frankfurt-am-Main, Abbey Church of Our Lady, Saint Anne Chapel
Anna Selbdritt Statue
German, c. 1500-1510
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Attributed to Meister mit dem Brustlatz
Anna Selbdritt, Center of St. John Altar
German, c. 1510-1520
Kiedrich, Catholic Parish Church of
Saints Dionysius and Valentinus








































Anna Selbdritt Statue
German, c. 1520
Unterthingau, Catholic Parish Church of Saint Nicholas

Saint Anne, Matriarch of the Holy Kindred
Meister R. L., The Holy Kindred
Austrian (Salzburg), 1518
Vienna, Belvedere Museum

Mystical Reflections
Francisco de Zurbaran, The Immaculate Conception with Saints Joachim and Anne
Spanish, c. 1638-1640
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Vision of Saints Anne and Joachim
Italian, 1759
Dresden, Gemaeldegalerie

Traditionally, a novena (period of nine days of prayer) precedes the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim on July 26th.  It begins on July 17th.  You might want to join in this novena by reciting the following novena prayer each day.



Novena Prayer to Saint Anne

"O glorious St. Ann, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen."

Luca Vescia, St. Anne and Mary
Italian, 1911
New York, St. Jean Baptiste Church, 
Shrine of St. Anne

If you are in the New York City area, please join the 136th novena at the Shrine of Saint Anne in the
Church of Saint Jean Baptiste on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
The schedule can be seen by clicking here.

To view the iconography updates from previous years see:

Saint Anne at the Met




© M. Duffy, 2018