J.M. + J.T.
Dear little sister,
Your letter has been one more joy in my heaven where I keep you constantly with me. Today I gave you and the little angels to the Blessed Virgin.
O! never have I loved her so much! I weep for joy when I think that this wholly serene, wholly luminous Creature is my Mother and I delight in her beauty like a child who loves its mother; I feel strongly drawn to her, I’ve made her Queen and Guardian of my heaven, and of yours, for I do everything for both of us.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
Letter 298 to her sister Guite (excerpt)
16 July 1906
Elizabeth of the Trinity, S 2003, The Complete Works of Elizabeth of the Trinity volume 2: Letters from Carmel, translated from the French by Nash, A, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: This painting of the Coronation of the Virgin is by the great Florentine artist (and erstwhile Carmelite friar) Fra Filippo Lippi. Executed in tempera on panel, this massive painting was installed in the church of Sant’Ambrogio, Florence. Today it hangs in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest in the world.
Author Bill McGarvey comments on Fra Filippo, the Carmelite, and one of his artworks in an article for the Carmelites. Here’s an excerpt:
One of my new favorite paintings is a scene painted by Filippo Lippi called, “The Confirmation of the Carmelite Rule.” Filippo Lippi was a Carmelite painter from the early renaissance period whose works hang in many of the major art museums today. The painting itself isn’t particularly beautiful to be honest, but there is something in it that draws me to it. The scene involves a young brother who is apparently professing his vows to his superior. The superior happens to have a very distinct smile on his face. It is this smile that is so interesting to me. According to some writers, this might in fact be one of the first instances of a smile being depicted in renaissance art.
If you look up Filippo Lippi in the art history books, you would soon discover that he was not the holiest Carmelite that ever lived, in fact some might even be scandalized by certain aspects of his life. However, I believe that Lippi was on to an extremely important point concerning the spiritual life—in fact life itself. It is the fact that our internal desire for happiness must be taken seriously. Many of the ancient philosophers spoke about our need for happiness. Also, central to the Christian faith is the belief that the very reason for our existence is to be happy with God. Nevertheless, I think that in our daily lives we can lose sight of what really makes us happy. True happiness I do not think is getting the latest iPhone—although that joy is truly awesome!—or other passing satisfactions. But there is a happiness that lasts – a happiness that comes when you know that you are doing something you were meant to do.
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