Marie du jour 2021, May 9: Père Jacques

Consider those closest to Christ. Saint John the Apostle grasped what was indispensable for a clear understanding of his master. John never tired of probing and querying Christ. We can see how John thus gained richer insights and fuller explanations, precisely because he went to the bother of approaching and asking Christ to clarify each day’s lesson. I picture John, walking close behind Christ, as he made his way about the Holy Land.

Thus, John came to gain a wealth of intimate knowledge, which the other apostles did not acquire. Herein lies the explanation for the special character of the fourth Gospel. While the other apostles traveled across the then known world on their missionary journeys, John’s unique apostolate was to remain close to the Virgin Mary, whom Christ had entrusted to him. Thus were these two great souls conjoined in love and prayer.

Servant of God Père Jacques de Jésus
St John Leading Home his Adopted Mother 1842-60 by William Dyce 1806-1864
St John Leading Home His Adopted Mother
William Dyce (Scottish, 1806–1864)
Oil paint on paper, 1842-60
Tate (not on display)
Presented anonymously, 1894
Photo © Tate
Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Tate Gallery Label:

In this episode from the New Testament the Virgin Mary and St John depart from Jesus’s tomb in the cool, symbolic light of the setting sun. Inspired by Renaissance painting techniques, Dyce has deployed rich colours, clearly-defined outlines and precise brushstrokes, which lend a pristine finish.

Dyce paid close attention to the natural environment of the Holy Land, the same kind of ‘truth to nature’ favoured by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Dyce never travelled beyond Europe but achieved this authenticity by studying botanical illustrations or observing plant specimens in a hothouse.

(October 2013)

Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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