23 November 2009

The Sacred Made Real

The Sacred Made Real from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

When I was in London, recently, I was very blessed to be able to visit the National Gallery to see the exhibition of Spanish painting and sculpture from the 17th Century. It was very impressive for many reasons, but I think Archbishop Vincent, in the video above, touches on one of the most important aspects of this exhibition. That is, to share our faith, or to introduce Christianity to those who doubt.

When he talks of the stigmata of Francis of Assisi, it is true to say that any Catholic would recognise the wound of Christ in the saint's side. That said, perhaps I was rushing too much on the day, and never noticed it. Maybe it was subconsciously noticed, or maybe there was just too much stimulation going on to take everything in at the one time.

There are many other very beautiful items to see, including the head of John the Baptist, which evoke many different thoughts and feelings. For a Catholic, especially, you are drawn into the mysteries the items talk of. One of the highlights, for me, was the torso of Christ post-flagellation. The artist, using various methods, has created a sculpture that was meant to be seen up close and even, possibly, touched. As I walked around the sculpture I found myself being drawn very close to the brutality of the torture which Christ had suffered. I was moved, almost to tears, in the same way I was when I saw the scourging at the pillar in Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ. It was almost like car-crash telly. You just couldn't help but be mesmerised.

The exhibition is on until late January. If you haven't been yet; do make the effort if you can. I don't think you'll be disappointed. It isn't as dramatic or distressing as Mel Gibson's film, but it is quite brutal on the senses. It brings alive much of our faith in a way that was so 'Spanish' at the time of the 17th century.

Enjoy! If that is the right word.


  1. Looks fascinating...and I'm not sure if that's the right word either, as it only describes from a sense perspective apparently, and not a spiritual one.

  2. Quite correct, shadowlands. Perhaps, 'Enrich' is better?



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