Sunday, April 17, 2022

Links for the Easter Season

Anthony van Dyck, The Resurrection
Flemish, c. 1631-1632
Hartford (CT), Wadsworth Athenaeum

The days of Lent and the days of sadness that are the Triduum are past and Easter 2022 has arrived!




I wish you a happy and profoundly inspiring Easter Season.

Who could have imagined two years ago that Christian worship on Easter would be restricted for two whole cycles!  While the picture is certainly better than it was one year ago, when most churches in the world were completely closed, there are still obstacles to the kind of celebration we were used to participating in.  

In many locations churches are either closed or are open under limited circumstances.  Also, many people still feel unsafe being indoors and, therefore, reluctant to attend the liturgies that commemorate the events of the Easter Season.  For these reasons I recommend to you the links below.  They lead to some of the commentary that I have written over the  years regarding the iconography of the Easter Season, which extends from this happy day till Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.

With museums in many countries closed once again as well, please feel free to explore virtually the art created to imagine the Resurrection and the days immediately following, all the way through to the feast of the Holy Trinity.  I hope that considering these events and the pictures that artists have created to illustrate them over the centuries will help you to feel more connected to the long tradition of Christian art offered to the glory of God and to the living Church of our own time.

The Resurrection, the Appearances, the Incredulity of Thomas, Emmaus

Date Published

The Women at the Tomb

April 27, 2011

Noli Me Tangere

April 29, 2011

Jesus, the Gardener
April 18, 2017

The Incredulity of St. Thomas (Doubting Thomas)
May 1, 2011

Emmaus -- The Journey

May 7, 2011

Emmaus -- The Recognition

May 7, 2011

Climbing from the Tomb

May 13, 2011

Hovering over the Tomb

May 13, 2011

Bursting from the Tomb

May 14, 2011

An Awkward
Resurrection Image

April 23, 2014
Good Shepherd Sunday
May 15, 2011

The Lake of Galilee -- The Disciples Go Fishing

May 17, 2011

Commission to Peter -- The Good Shepherd Transfers Responsibility

May 21, 2011

The Commission to the Apostles

May 27, 2011

Christ Appears to His Mother

Christ Presents the Redeemed to His Mother

June 1, 2011

May 11, 2017

The Ascension

Striding into the Sky
June 3, 2011

Lifted in a Mondorla or on a Cloud

May 5, 2017

The Disappearing Feet

May 5, 2017

The Direct Approach

May 5, 2017


Veni, Sanctae Spiritus

Tongues of Fire

May 27, 2012

May 15, 2016

At This Sound, They Gathered In a Crowd

The Holy Trinity

Worthy Is The Lamb

Father, Son, Spirit

Iconography of the 
Holy Trinity – 
Imagining The Unimaginable

The Holy Trinity -- Love Made Visible

The Holy Trinity -- The Throne of Grace


May 17, 2016

April 10, 2016

May 18, 2008

June 2, 2012

June 13, 2019

June 7, 2020

© M. Duffy, 2020

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Day of Gloom and the Coming of the Light

Paolo Veronese, Dead Christ Supported By Angels
Italian, 1587-1589
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
This essay, originally  written several years ago, was amended in 2020 due to the reduced circumstances occasioned by the lockdowns that were in effect in many countries as part of the battle against COVID-19.  I wanted to assist people in their  meditation on the meaning of Easter. 

Although the circumstances are far better this year in most places, the sense of disruption remains.  A new variant is stalking many places, including my own city of New York, so attending the Triduum and Easter services may cause some worry.  One may chose to pass on certain services that will be crowded and resort to the now familiar lives tream from your parish or cathedral or from Rome.  Consequently, liturgies will, perhaps, not be as full as usual and may lack some of the usual elements, such as processions.  Or,  some actions, such as venerationg of the cross, may be more controlled.  

However, the Paschal Candle will be lit and the Exultet will be sung.  Catechumens will be baptized and baptized converts will be received into the church.  The readings will still tell us about creation and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.  The Eucharist will still be consecrated and received.  The Alleluias will still be sung.  Nevertheless,  since every person in the world has not been vaccinated yet and the virus continues to infect millions, while millions more will stay home to avoid it, the essay seems worth repeating.  But, please remember that it was written in April 2020, not currently.

On a typical Holy Saturday the church is quiet, the tabernacle empty, the altar stripped. People come for services such as Tenebrae, made up of readings, songs and symbolic acts such as the snuffing out of candles or for Confession to ask God for forgiveness.

 Basically, the prevailing mood is quiet, a little gloomy even, but with a hint of excitement nonetheless.

This year of 2020 things are very different.  The churches are very quiet indeed, for they are empty.  There will be no public celebrations of Tenebrae, no Confessions, unless they are drive through or by appointment in carefully distanced surroundings.  There will be an Easter Vigil, however, even if there is no one in the church building except the minimum necessary.  The major portion of the Christian world is in isolation, staying at home in an attempt to reduce the raging pandemic of COVID-19, a virus no one knew existed until four months ago.

But the congregations will be there, virtually, attending the services of the churches that have found a way to live stream the Holy Week liturgies.  In this we are so much more privileged than our ancestors who endured previous plagues and epidemics.  In these last days I have been present virtually at liturgies in several countries and in different states:  Rome, Paris, Turin, New York and California.  In spite of the pandemic, which has caused me to hunker down in my apartment due to my several prior "comorbidities" I feel highly blessed to be able to live in a time when this is possible.

So, today while we remember the hours between the evening of Good Friday, when the body of Jesus was laid hurriedly in the tomb with little ceremony, and the morning of Easter Sunday, when the women who came to complete the proper burial customs found an empty tomb, we find ourselves enduring a kind of burial as well.

But, underneath it all is still the sense of expectation.  And, late in the afternoon, we will turn to the screens of our television or computer or tablet or phone to celebrate the Easter Vigil, the Great Vigil, in which the darkness of the tomb is turned to the light of resurrection.

As the massive newly carved and lit Paschal Candle is carried down the aisle of the darkened church we will be confronted with a symbolic image that has come down to us from remote centuries, for the light represents the Risen Christ.  This year we cannot light our small candles with the rest of the congregation, though perhaps we may light one at home.  But we should try to hold in memory what happens year after year as the individual candles are lit from the great one.  The church gradually fills with light.  What was obscure and gloomy just moments ago can be seen clearly.  It is a magnificent symbol of the Resurrection, of the share we each have in it and of the effect that spreading that light can have on the world.  This year the light may come only from the screen, but it is none the less a manifestation of the Light of Christ.  And if all the tuned-in screens in the world could shine together, we might have a very different world.

Deacon Singing the Exultet 
From  an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), ca. 1072
In this scene he gestures toward the Paschal Candle, which is being incensed

For more information on the images that relate to both the day of waiting and of the Paschal Candle, please click on the following:

The Harrowing of Hell here

The Dead Christ in the Tomb here

Easter Vigil and the Paschal Candle here

©  M. Duffy, 2015, updated 2020 and 2021 and 2022

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Links for Holy Week

Giotto, Jesus Washes the Feet of Peter
Italian, 1304-1306
Padua, Scrovegni/Arena Chapel (detail)

I won't be blogging during the next few weeks, which include Holy Week (April 10-April 13) and the Paschal Triduum (April 14,15, 16).  Instead I am providing links to the numerous essays I have written in recent years about the art associated with these days. Please use the links below to access them.

Also watch the Featured Posts section on the right for direct links to associated articles.  You may particularly wish to click on the links to the images associated with the Stations of the Cross and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, both popular devotional prayers recalling the events of Holy Week.

2011 Series:  Holy Week with Giotto (with some additional essays from later years)

Date Published
Palm Sunday
Holy Week with Giotto, Palm Sunday
April 17, 2011

Entering Jerusalem, the Hinge to the Passion
April 9, 2017

Monday and
Holy Week with Giotto – Jesus and Judas
April 19, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Judas’ Betrayal I
April 20, 2011

Spy Wednesday -- Thirty Pieces of Silver
April 1, 2015

Holy Week with Giotto – Holy Thursday, Washing Feet
April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday
April 5, 2012

Holy Week with Giotto – Judas’ Betrayal II, the Kiss
April 20, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Good Friday, Overnight, Christ Before Caiaphas
April 21, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Good Friday, Early Morning, Mocking of Christ
April 21, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Good Friday, Mid-Morning, Via Crucis
April 22, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Good Friday, Early Afternoon, the Crucifixion
April 22, 2011

Holy Week with Giotto – Good Friday, Late Afternoon, the Lamentation
April 22, 2011

Holy Saturday
April 23, 2011

O, Key of David! Come, break down the walls of death!
December 20, 2011

Exult! – The Easter Proclamation
March 30, 2013

The Day of Gloom and the Coming of the Light

© M. Duffy, 2022

April 4, 2015