The Colours of the Virgin of Revelation

“The celestial woman had black hair that protruded from a green mantle that flowed down her body from head to foot. Below the mantle she wore a white robe tied around the waist with a rose coloured sash ….”I am who I am in the Divine Trinity. I am the Virgin of Revelation.” With these […]

The Temptations of Christ

The Temptations of Christ (1480-1482) Botticelli, Sistine Chapel St Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus in the desert is the Gospel reading on the first Sunday of Lent and it also signals the start of the penitential itinerary that will lead us to Easter Sunday. The representation of the devil as a tempter is […]

The Navicella – An Icon of Faith

The Navicella, by Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 –1337),which illustrates the scene from St Mathew’s Gospel when St Peter walks on water towards Christ, (Mt 14:22-33) is one of St Peter’s Basilica’s most important works. This icon of faith has greeted visitors leaving the Basilica since the early 14th Century onwards. The mosaic that remains today, […]

The Angelus, the prayer that inspired a masterpiece

The Angelus was painted by JF Millet (1814-1875) in 1859. His early life was spent in rural France working on the family farm whilst being instructed in the classics by the priests from the local parish. Millet inherited his father’s artistic talent and as a boy copied prints from the Bible and so his artistic […]

The Mother of God and the three Kings in the Dogmatic Sarcophagus

In 1823, Saint Paul Outside the Walls basilica, Rome, was destroyed in a terrible fire.  During the reconstruction works in 1838, a splendid sarcophagus from the 4th century AD was found near St Paul’s tomb.  The beauty and the profound nature of the Biblical scenes that were sculpted on the face of the tomb, has […]

The Nativity by Federico Barocci (circa 1590) The humility of God who became a Child.

Christmas is the ideal time to contemplate the Lord’s birth through one of the most beautiful works of art: the Nativity by Barocci. Frederico Barocci (1530-1612), is one of the most important mannerist painters of the 16th century who applied an extraordinary use of colour, characterised by warm colour shades, to his artistic work. The […]

Bethlehem’s manger in Rome

  Just below the main altar in the splendid Basilica of St Mary Majors, Rome, it is possible to venerate the precious relic of Our Lord’s crib.  The relics are protected in an elegant crystal reliquary in the form of a manger which is supported by four golden angels.  It is closed by a lid […]

The Nativity

  The first “living” crib was created on Christmas Eve 1223 in Greccio, Italy.  Here, St Francis of Assisi, wanted to relive the happy Bethlehem night in which the Almighty God was born, wrapped “in swaddling clothes and placed … in a manger” by His mother. (Lk 2:7) To create this profound experience, he made […]

It is good to go back in time

A city like Rome, with its abundance of history and art, can, at times, produce sentiments of inadequacy and disorientation. Here we can find places that open our minds to the possibility of a recuperation of our Christian identity and roots. For a moment, let us abandon the noisy hub-bub of the streets and try […]

The Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

Francesco Podesti (1800 –1895), the skilled painter and portrait artist, was entrusted with the task of realising a work to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Vatican. The work was to be frescoed onto the walls of the Borgia Tower, in a room that is adjacent to Raphael’s Fire […]