28 April: This is my body!

easter.morning.frara.venice

 

We were put off by the grandiose monuments in the Conventual Franciscans’ church in Venice. A six metre high pyramid or a balcony upheld by gigantic black strongmen: I don’t see what their place is in a Christian church. Worse by far than what we have in Canterbury. But no more of that.

Take a look instead at this wall carving; it may be small but it says more than the marble monstrosities, however clever their workmanship.

This is Easter morning, first thing, before Mary reaches the tomb. The rising sun is gilding the tree and shining upon the One who has risen. An angel watches over him, as always. The angels had to watch the events of Thursday night and Friday without intervening. Were they already reassured that all would be well? We cannot know their experience of time.

Jesus is experiencing time, and space and all his senses, in a completely new way. The warmth of the sun on his chest makes him stop and think: This is my body!

His left hand explores his wounded side: no, I can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt. I can breathe freely, but I carry the marks, the stigmata, (as Saint Francis was to do). Time has left other marks, blotches, bruises, that probably were not all intended by the artist, but they point to this moment when Jesus took those first breaths, not in his new body, but in his body renewed, transformed; or in the process of transformation, in that twinkling of an eye, before he dressed and went out to meet Mary. Surely, with the blood flowing again – as we see it is – the bruises will disappear.

It was important to Jesus in this moment to explore his risen body, to know what he was waking up to. So, Thomas, come and put your hand in the mark of the nails, put your hand in my side, stop doubting and believe – just as I did last week!

3 Comments

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, PLaces

3 responses to “28 April: This is my body!

  1. Thank you for your article. I must agree with you that the Canova monument at the Basilica Dei Frari in Venice seems very out of place and to some disturbing. I’ve personally never been impressed by grandiose funerary displays especially in a church, after reading your article I became curious (as one does) and took a look (digitally, as a hermit I cannot leave the hermitage) and was quite taken aback. I found out some details which I’ve translated for you but I do not feel that it explains the reason for design: In 1794 Antonio Canova designed and built a model for the funeral monument of Titian, but there were many difficulties in collecting the necessary funds for the realization, so that in 1822, the year of Canova’s death, it was still in the project phase. Canova was buried in Possagno, his native town, the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice decided to build a monument to house the porphyry urn containing the heart of the artist; the work was undertaken by six of his students and completed in 1827. It is a pyramidal cenotaph enriched with mythological figures. Eros and Psyche (representing Love, Desire and Soul), Perseus and Medusa (representation of the Hero victorious on terrestrial trials) and the three Graces, symbol of the theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. Under the central medallion opens a door to which the funeral procession leads. The veiled character of Death, who wears a long cloak, and is followed by a half-naked youth holding a lit torch, representing Immortality which follows symbolically after death. Two women follow with a wreath of flowers, a symbol of hope in the charity of immortal life. Two youths holding burning torches close the procession. The torches indicate the Faith that is renewed. On the first of the three steps there is a sleeping winged lion (Power, Wisdom, Justice with a reference to the Apocalypse of John in which the Winged Lion opens the Book of Life). Here the lion means that Canova died bringing with him wisdom and faith towards God. On the second step stands an angel with open wings, melancholy, representing the guardian angel of the soul. A corner of the tunic slides towards the third step where a laurel wreath rests, crown of victory abandoned by the one who was glorious in life while knowing how to keep away from the vainglory of the world. Without a tunic the Angel is stripped naked, as in the naked Truth. (To be honest I’m not sure why the Canons at the Basilica allowed such a monstrosity nor the necessity of naked youths). I’m still wondering about Canterbury though as I’ve been on many occasions but not for the last 20 years… god bless

    Like

    • Thank you Brother!
      In Canterbury I was thinking mostly of the military monuments, I guess, though there are others glorifying the rich and powerful. This was a barracks town until just a few years ago. Maybe it’s a good thing to feel uncomfortable beside those Victorian marbles commemorating wars in India, Africa, Europe?

      Peace be with you,

      Will T

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.