Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Afternoon With Caravaggio...

After doing just fine on my Italian test this morning I took a walk in the late afternoon North past Piazza Navona to see a parrucchiere, or barber. A certain Antonio did a fine job with the haircut, considering what he had to work with. I then stopped at the Abbey Theater Pub, an Irish pub that was showing a Detroit Tigers/Tampa Bay Rays game. I had a pint of Kilkenney Strong. Sorry, no photos. I'll leave that to other blogging priests...

I then made my way back toward Piazza Navona on what has to be one of the best weather days thus far. Chrystal blue skies, light breeze and warm sun seemed to show the best color of every building. I stopped at the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, the French church in Rome. There is housed three paintings by the artist Caravaggio.

I am slowly reading here and there the book M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio and have decided to try to systematically visit as many of his works here in Rome as possible. So today, I saw three.

The side chapel of St. Matthew shows a three-part series of the saint's life. To the right is the painting, Martyrdom of St. Matthew (Not Pictured). In the center is St. Matthew and the Angel. Then, to the left is the more famous Calling of St. Matthew. This latter painting really is a tremendous sight.

We read in the Gospel of Mark 2:14, "As Jesus passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alpheus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him."

Christ, using the same gesture as Adam in the Michelangelo's fresco of creation, extends God's creation of man into vocation to follow his calling. The same extended hand crosses over the void which separates the two groups of people, the separation between man and God, human and divine, sin and mercy. This crossover thus becomes the opening of an alliance between God and men realized by the gift of mercy.

We notice as well the cruciform in the window, a prediciton of Christ's death. Also, it is St. Peter who stands next to Christ, his back to us. And so it is St. Peter, representative of the Church established on earth, to whom we relate, to whom we pass in order to find and follow Christ.

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