Suzy Schultz’s Second Innocence

Today I’m sharing some of the work and words of the contemporary artist Suzy Schultz, who I just discovered through an interview with her on Joseph Futral’s blog, Nature of the Beat. I instantly was taken by her work, and reading her thoughts about the idea of Second Innocence resonated deeply for me:

“I heard that term in an interview in an article years ago. The guy quoted a French theologian, the theologian used that term Second Innocence. I don’t know what it is about that term, I have some ideas. It kind of goes with the whole theory of there being redemption, of things that are broken becoming whole. Or things that are scarred becoming beautiful, not because they lose their scars but the scars are part of the new beauty that they have. Even physical things like old walls that have years and years of stains on them and have all these different colors as a result of that. They have this patina of beauty that is much richer to me than if it was a freshly painted wall.”

Prayer by Suzy Schultz

Prayer by Suzy Schultz

“There’s a hope that the mistakes we’ve made, or the regrets that we have, or the imperfections we have, can all be a part of, don’t prevent us from, living life fully and beautifully. That can be a part of our going through the fire and having those things perfected into a new kind of beauty. As I get older I look to things that give me hope, that my own struggles can be a part of creating a new beauty.”

Spring Web by Suzy Schultz

Spring Web by Suzy Schultz

“One of the pieces that I recently did, I’ve been doing this whole warrior series. I did a piece in the last few years of a woman; she’s dressed as a warrior, she’s got a bow strapped across her, a quiver with arrows in it. She’s got what could be seen as wings behind her or a large bird of prey like an eagle that’s flying over her. In my mind what I wanted was she is someone who is very strong. She’s a warrior herself. And yet she, herself, needs protection and shelter. I was also inspired by Psalm 91, which I embedded in part of the painting, which talks about finding refuge and being under the shelter of protective wings. There is an aura of mystery to that, you aren’t sure if they’re wings, is she an angel, a bird flying over her. I like that the image is still powerful even though it’s not and maybe because it’s not so defined you know exactly what it is. There’s not a defined message necessarily there, but there is a symbology that gives a powerful image.”

Warrior by Suzy Schultz.

Warrior by Suzy Schultz

“There’s something so symbolic about eggs. I love the fact that only the eggs that are broken bring forth life. If the eggs are never broken apart the life inside them dies. There’s a lot of symbolism there. I couldn’t have put words to that before I started painting those. I just knew there was something about the eggs that I was drawn towards.”

Broken and Whole by Suzy Schultz

Broken and Whole by Suzy Schultz

“I guess my connection with the Christian faith tends to be finding these redemptive themes over and over and exploring those. Kind of like the broken and whole, the guy holding the birds nest, the empty chair, the warrior. I guess those themes keep drawing me back to the faith.”

Doorway by Suzy Schultz

Doorway by Suzy Schultz

“Every once in a while when I’m painting I’m able to be both a participant and a vessel. When that happens and things happen on the panel or paper that were other than what I intended, that end up being really powerful paintings, I feel like I experience something of a connection with God.”

The New Law

Many (most?) of us would probably have to admit that our natural inclinations often lead us to harsh judgments of our fellows rather than merciful love. In the Sistine Chapel we can experience the tension between these poles as we stand between two works of Cosimo Rosselli, a Florentine artist of the fourteenth century. Long before Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the chapel, Rosselli was hired to decorate the walls of the chapel along with Botticelli, Perugino, and Ghirlandaio. Rosselli painted parts of a cycle on the north wall depicting scenes from the life of Christ (the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Supper) and the life of Moses on the south wall (the Crossing of the Red Sea and the Tablets of the Law with the Golden Calf). For this post we will look at the Sermon on the Mount and Tablets of the Law.

The Tablets of the Law with the Golden Calf by Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82, Fresco, 350 x 572 cm Sistine Chapel, Vatican

The Tablets of the Law with the Golden Calf by Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82, Fresco, 350 x 572 cm
Sistine Chapel, Vatican

In The Tablets of the Law with Golden Calf, we several scenes juxtaposed. At the top, Moses appears on Mount Sinai as he converses with God, who appears in a fiery cloud surrounded by angels, while Joshua sleeps below. At the left, we see Moses bringing the tablets containing the ten commandments to the Israelites, whose camp can be seen in the background. In the center, Moses is about to smash the tablets when he sees the altar with the golden calf that the people have built and worshipped in his absence. Finally, at the right in the small inset scene, we see the idolatrous people being punished.

 

Sermon on the Mount by Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82, Fresco, 349 x 570 cm Sistine Chapel, Vatican.

Sermon on the Mount by Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82, Fresco, 349 x 570 cm Sistine Chapel, Vatican.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, placed directly opposite the Moses painting, Rosselli used a similar compositional arrangement to emphasize the comparison between the two scenes from scripture. The mountain scene at the center top is now occupied by the Church, the place where God can now be found and from which see the figure of Christ coming down towards us. At the center of the painting, Christ delivers the Sermon on the Mount to a large crowd at left, while the Apostles huddle behind him. At the right we see Jesus curing a leper.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:1-12

 

Standing between these two works in the Sistine Chapel, you are meant to be reminded that you are standing in the Church that carries the continuity between the Old Law given by Moses and the New Law as represented by Jesus. But it is also a challenge to us. We are caught in the middle between the old law of harsh judgment, which is our natural inclination as fallen human beings, and the new law of love and mercy. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ makes it clear which path we are to choose if we seek the Kingdom of Heaven. In Rosselli’s paintings we see that the old law leads to punishment while the new law brings healing by Christ. Which path will you choose?

The Feast of Corpus Christi

The feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ) is the day that Catholics celebrate the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which means ‘thanksgiving’). The scriptural basis for this belief is taken from the words of Jesus at the Last Supper:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28)

These words are repeated by the priest during the Mass. By an “inexhaustible mystery” that cannot be fully explained, Christ then becomes present under the appearance of bread and wine, a mystery known as transubstantiation. He becomes spiritual nourishment for the faithful, uniting them with his humanity and also with his divinity. Through Baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God, and through Communion that bond is strengthened as “by his indwelling we are made holy by the gift of sanctifying grace.”

The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts 1464-1467 oil on panel 180 x 150 cm., St. Peter's Church, Leuven, Belgium.

The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts 1464-1467 oil on panel 180 x 150 cm., St. Peter’s Church, Leuven, Belgium.

 

The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts, an artist we’ve looked at before, is part of the Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament created for the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament in Leuven and is considered to be Bouts’s greatest masterpiece. In it, we see the Flemish love of pattern and fabrics and Bouts’s distinctive attenuated figures. The painting depicts one of the earliest uses of single point perspective, seen in the orthogonal lines of the floor and ceiling. Christ is at the center, as in most Last Supper scenes, and he is presented here as a priestly figure, presenting the Eucharist and making a gesture of blessing and consecration. As an altarpiece, this painting expresses the Real Presence of Christ in a powerful way to us as the viewers; we see Jesus offering himself as the Bread of Life as he gazes directly out at us (be sure to click on the images to see enlarged details).

The Feast of Corpus Christi was added to the Church calendar due to the efforts of a medieval nun, Juliana of Liège in Belgium (1193-1252), who had visions in which Christ told her the Blessed Sacrament needed a feast of its own. In August of 1264, Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Church.

Juliana of Liege holding a monstrance, Peter Paul Metz 1896, polychrome wooden sculpture, church of St. Gordian and Epimachus, Merazhofen, Germany.

Juliana of Liege holding a monstrance, Peter Paul Metz 1896, polychrome wooden sculpture, church of St. Gordian and Epimachus, Merazhofen, Germany.

 

Part of the celebration of Corpus Christi is the exposition and procession of the Blessed Sacrament, when the Eucharist is publicly displayed in a monstrance carried by the priest and often protected beneath a canopy. Medieval images of such processions exist in illuminated manuscripts.

Corpus Christi procession, illustration from folio 13 of the Lovell Lectionary (Harley 7026), illuminated manuscript, British Library.

Corpus Christi procession, illustration from folio 13 of the Lovell Lectionary (Harley 7026), illuminated manuscript, British Library.

This image is a detail from a page in the Lovell Lectionary, a manuscript given by John, Lord Lovell of Titchmarsh, to Salisbury Cathedral in about 1408. It was signed by  John Siferwas, a Dominican friar and known artist. In this miniature image, every millimeter has been covered in colorful, intricate patterns, from the ground to the canopy to the priestly vestments, each one unique. Even the background has been dotted with large flower designs. The man in the center wears a bishop’s mitre and carries the monstrance, which pales in comparison to the splendid vestments of the priests!

Most monstrances (which means “to show” in Latin)  are in the traditional sunburst design topped with a cross, as we can see Pope Francis carrying in this image.

Pope Francis with monstrance containing  Blessed Sacrament

Pope Francis with monstrance containing Blessed Sacrament

In some places, though, the monstrance has become a spectacular object, such as the one in the cathedral at Toledo, Spain.

 

Monstrance, silver-gilt, 1517, Cathedral of Toledo, Spain

Monstrance, silver-gilt, 1517, Cathedral of Toledo, Spain

 

Corpus Christi processions through the centuries have often become colorful spectacles, as depicted in a series of paintings from the seventeenth century in Cuzco, Peru.

Cuzco Corpus Christi procession

Parish of San Sebastián, detail from the Procession of Corpus Christi series, c. 1680, oil on canvas (Museo del Arzobispado, Cuzco, Peru)

 

Parish of San Sebastian Corpus Christi Procession

Parish of San Sebastián, detail from the Procession of Corpus Christi series, c. 1680, oil on canvas (Museo del Arzobispado, Cuzco, Peru)

 

"Bishop Manuel de Mollinedo Ending Procession and Entering the Cathedral Again, Corpus Christi series"

“Bishop Manuel de Mollinedo Ending Procession and Entering the Cathedral Again, Corpus Christi series”

In these very large paintings we can see a mixture of Spaniards and indigenous people, musical instruments, costumes, and elaborate carts included in the parades. Such elaborate Corpus Christi processions may still be seen today, particularly in Spain and Latin America.

Corpus Christi feast in modern Cuzco, Peru

Corpus Christi feast in modern Cuzco, Peru

 

Holy Trinity

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20

image

Albrecht Dürer, one of the greatest artists of the Northern Renaissance, was also a mathematician, theorist, engraver and printmaker. In 1511he created this altarpiece for the chapel of an almshouse for poor artists in Nuremberg known as the Twelve Brothers’ House. It is also called the Landauer Altarpiece after the patron of the poorhouse. Made of a single panel, the altarpiece was meant to be displayed in the elaborate wooden frame also designed by Dürer, though they are no longer united.

image

The painting’s complex iconography depicts the living crucified Christ at the center with God the Father wearing a kingly crown, and the radiant dove of the Holy Spirit above him. Angelic and saintly figures fill out the upper half and earthly figures populate the space below. At the very bottom, a landscape with a lake stretches into the distance, with the lone figure of the artist himself at the far right, standing next to a panel that reads, “Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg made this 1511 years after the Virgin.”

image

The depiction of God the father supporting the cross of Christ with the Holy Spirit nearby is known as the Mercy Seat image, or Gnadenstuhl, that celebrates the triune nature of the godhead and glorifies the Eucharistic act of God sacrificing the Son. This makes it an appropriate image for an altar, where the body of the Son is being continually offered up. We see in this image the tender love of the Father as he offers up the body of the Son for our salvation, with the Holy Spirit as the agent of the transubstantiation of the host into the true body of Christ.

As we contemplate the mystery of the Holy Trinity this Sunday, we might include this prayer:

Glory be to the Father,
Who by His almighty power and love created me,
making me in the image and likeness of God.

Glory be to the Son,
Who by His Precious Blood delivered me from hell,
and opened for me the gates of heaven.

Glory be to the Holy Spirit,
Who has sanctified me in the sacrament of Baptism,
and continues to sanctify me
by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.

Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity,
now and forever.

Amen.

Pentecost

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. 

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
Acts 2:1-11
Holy Spirit window, Bernini, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome.

Holy Spirit window, Bernini, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, Rome.

The feast of Pentecost, one of the most ancient celebrations of the church, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles as described in the book of Acts. Pentecost in Greek means the fiftieth day after Easter. It is symbolized in the liturgy of the church with the color red, and the Holy Spirit is represented in art by flames or doves. In the OT, a dove was released from the ark by Noah to find dry land after the flood, and in the gospels a dove comes down upon Jesus when he arises from the water after his baptism. Fire often signals the presence of God in the Old Testament, as we read in the account of Moses with the burning bush, and the pillar of fire that leads the Hebrews in Exodus. Fire is also the great purifier that transforms whatever it touches. In the Gospel of Luke, John the Baptist proclaims that Christ “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Pentecost, Folio 14v of the Rabbula Gospels, ca 586, 34 x 27 cm, Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana, Florence.

Pentecost, Folio 14v of the Rabbula Gospels, ca 586, 34 x 27 cm, Biblioteca Mediceo Laurenziana, Florence.

The earliest image that I could find of the Pentecost event is the illustration above (click on it for larger image) from a 6th century illuminated manuscript of the Gospels created in a Syriac monastery and now housed in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy. Known as the Rabbula Gospels since it is signed by a scribe of that name, it is one of the earliest illustrated Christian manuscripts. In this depiction of Pentecost, we see Jesus’ mother Mary at the center, dressed in her customary blue and surrounded by a symmetrical arrangement of the twelve apostles. Both Mary’s halo and the areas to her right and left are painted in red, creating a sort of mandorla that sets her apart from the others. The apostles’ halos are a deep bluish black, they are all bearded, and careful attention has been given to the details of their garments. All of the figures hold their right hands in a gesture of blessing or praise while tongues of fire hover above each head.  Descending from above we see the dove of the Holy Spirit issuing forth its rays. Curiously, although Luke states in the Book of Acts that they are all together in the house, in this scene they appear to be in a cave. We see them standing on a rough, rocky surface, there are trees above to indicate the outdoors, and the dark semi-circle enclosing them could be the roof of a dark cave, though it may also signify the dome of heaven.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit by Titian, 1545, oil on canvas 570 x 260 cm, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit by Titian, 1545, oil on canvas 570 x 260 cm, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice.

Our next image of the event is by Titian, the 16th century Venetian Renaissance master who would influence artists for generations to come, including Baroque artists such as Rubens, Rembrandt, and Velazquez. Titian was known as a brilliant colorist, though by the time of this painting his mature style displayed more subdued tones than the vivid hues of his earlier works. The stark difference between this work, painted for the church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice, and the 6th century manuscript we saw previously, reflects the millennium of artistic development that separates the two images. Though Titian’s painting contains some of the same basic elements as the Rabbula manuscript, the style is now naturalistic, with figures that appear fully fleshed out and rounded, wearing garments that reveal the movement of the bodies beneath them. Two more women behind Mary have been added to the scene. Rather than all the figures standing hieratically in a row, as in the manuscript, we now have figures that are twisting and straining with emotional energy as they gesture and pray while the fire of the Spirit descends upon them. We now also see an architectural setting with depth, as displayed in the coffered vault above the figures that seems to recede into the back wall, where the opening reveals the dove of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost by El Greco (and workshop) ca.1600, oil on canvas 275 cm x 127 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Pentecost by El Greco (and workshop) ca.1600, oil on canvas 275 cm x 127 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

In his later years Titian experimented slightly with a style from Rome known as Mannerism, which featured distortions of the human figure, bizarre colorations, flattened pictorial space, and an emphasis on sophistication rather than naturalism, but he never really abandoned his Venetian roots. El Greco, on the other hand, embraced Mannerism with a vengeance. Originally from Crete (hence his nickname, meaning “the Greek”) where he painted Eastern Orthodox icons, El Greco then studied painting in Venice and Rome and subsequently achieved success in Toledo, Spain. In this painting of Pentecost, we see all the hallmarks of El Greco’s highly distinctive style. The figures are unnaturally elongated, the colors are sulphurous, the composition is crowded with figures and has virtually no background apart from a few steps at the bottom and the arch above where the Holy Spirit descends. The space is compressed and flattened, which both pushes the figures outward and invites the viewer in. The two figures in the foreground, with their backs to us, seem near enough to touch, and their craning necks twisting upwards give one a slightly vertiginous feeling.

[I feel I should enter a caveat here about color. Images from books and the internet often vary wildly in their coloration both from each other and from the original. For instance, both the El Greco and the Titian images have example on websites whose colors are much brighter than the examples I used above. I’m not sure which images are truer to the original, having never seen them in their settings. There is no substitute for seeing the paintings in person!]

Pentecost, Jean II Restout,  1732 oil on canvas 465 x 778 cm, Louvre, Paris.

Pentecost, Jean II Restout, 1732 oil on canvas 465 x 778 cm, Louvre, Paris.

The painter Jean Restout came from a family of artists known for works on religious and historical subjects. He was nearly relegated to obscurity, but recent work by art historians to rehabilitate 18th century French history painters has revived his reputation somewhat, and several of his works are now on display in the Louvre. One reviewer describes his style as idiosyncratic, with animation and exaggerated poses in figures who are caught up in their turbulent drapery. You can see all of these qualities in this enormous rendition of Pentecost.

Throne of St. Peter with Holy Spirit window, Bernini, bronze, gilded stucco, marble, stained glass, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome.

Throne of St. Peter with Holy Spirit window, Bernini, bronze, gilded stucco, marble, stained glass, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican, Rome.

Finally, though not an image of the Pentecost event described in the book of Acts, we have the Throne of St. Peter from the Vatican, another stupendous concoction designed by the Baroque sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which includes the dove image of the Holy Spirit. The bronze throne encases a much older wooden chair that tradition says was the actual chair of St. Peter, but that scientific testing and historical scholarship reasonably date to the 10th century.  The chair represents the Pope’s office as the Bishop of Rome, the position that was first held by Peter, according to tradition.  Bernini’s bronze chair seems to float on clouds and light and is held to earth by four bronze statues of doctors of the Church, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom and Athanasius.  Above the throne, gilded rays, clouds and dancing angels surround the stained glass window with the dove of the Holy Spirit depicted in its center. The whole monument symbolizes that the Church is the completion of the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, to bring the faithful to share in communion with the Father. In addition to bestowing the Holy Spirit on those who believe and completing the Holy Trinity, the Pentecost event also signals the foundation of the Church, which is the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

At Pentecost the Church celebrates this fulfillment of the Holy Trinity, the event when, “of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.” By this act, the love of God is poured into our hearts and makes it possible for us to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. For St. Ambrose, the fourth century Church Father, the Holy Spirit was a flowing river that goes forth from the Fount of Life, while St. Augustine proclaimed that there is no gift of God more excellent than the Holy Spirit.

Finally, here are two very different videos for the musical contemplation of Pentecost. The first is the Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the “Golden Sequence,” chanted by the Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis. The second is the song, Soul on Fire by the popular contemporary Christian musical group Third Day. Enjoy!

Finding God Through Art

Golden Fire

Golden Fire II, Makoto Fujimura
Mineral Pigments, Gold on Kumohada
89×132″

Makoto Fujimura is a contemporary artist who paints abstract works in the Japanese style, called Nihonga. Not being a specialist in contemporary art (to put it mildly!) I just learned about him today from Jody Thomae’s blog, God’s Creative Gift.  She posted the video, below, of the artist discussing his discovery that Jesus is the source of beauty and creativity. Enjoy.

 

Do Not Be Afraid!

 

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Continue reading

Running to the Empty Tomb

 

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection, c.1898  Eugene Burnand, Oil on canvas 81 x 141 cm  Musee d'Orsay, Paris

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection, c.1898 Eugene Burnand, Oil on canvas 81 x 141 cm Musee d’Orsay, Paris

This is a lovely exercise from Ignatian Press Arts & Faith on the painting above by Eugene Burnand:

http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/20988/arts-faith-easter-imaginative-prayer-exercise-2

The Resurrection

Resurrection by Deiric Bouts, 1455 Distemper on linen 89.9 x 74.3 cm, The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

Resurrection by Deiric Bouts, 1455 Distemper on linen 89.9 x 74.3 cm, The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena

Dieric Bouts was a Northern Renaissance artist whose paintings clearly reflect the naturalism and interest in landscapes and surfaces that is so symptomatic of Flemish works, though he paints in a quiet idiom that is all his own. Bouts’ subtle vision is readily apparent in his 1455 painting of The Resurrection which is now at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.  Continue reading

St. Teresa of Avila

Today is the birthday of Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), a Spanish nun, theologian, mystic, writer of such spiritual classics as Interior Castle and Way of Perfection, one of only two female Doctors of the Church, and founder of the order of Discalced Carmelites. The term ‘discalced’ means without shoes and was chosen by Teresa to signify their poverty. She first joined a Carmelite convent at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila but was disappointed with their spiritual lassitude and worldly ways, so she established the reformed Discalced order. She went on to found seventeen houses of the order for women throughout Spain, often facing severe opposition. Continue reading