Thursday, January 1, 2015


When the Magi came in search of Jesus, they go to Herod the Great in Jerusalem and ask where to find the newborn "King of the Jews". Herod becomes paranoid that the Child will threaten his throne, and seeks to kill Him . Herod initiates the Massacre of the Innocents in hopes of killing the Child (Matthew 2:16). But an angel appears to Joseph and warns Joseph to take Jesus and his mother into Egypt (Matthew 2:13).


Egypt was a logical place to find refuge, as it was outside the dominions of King Herod, but both Egypt and Palestine were part of the Roman Empire, linked by a coastal road known as "the way of the sea", making travel between them easy and relatively safe.

Interesting to note the Flight into Egypt is one of the listed Seven Sorrows of Mary.

At Al-Maṭariyyah, then in Heliopolis and now part of Cairo, there is a sycamore tree (and adjacent chapel) that is a 1672 planting replacing an earlier tree under which Mary was said to have rested, or in some versions hidden from pursuers in the hollow trunk, while pious spiders covered the entrance with dense webs.

The Flight into Egypt was a popular subject in art, showing Mary with the baby on a donkey, led by Joseph, borrowing the older iconography of the rare Byzantine Journey to Bethlehem. Before 1525, it usually formed part of a larger cycle, whether of the Nativity, or the Life of Christ or Life of the Virgin. After paintings of the Nativity of Jesus, the Flight is the most popular subjects in the life of the Christ Child.

The artist of these painting is one of my new favorites and to me conveys the mystery of this feast in a way words cannot.  His use of colors in his art is vivid and wondrous.

Jean-Marie Pirot known as ARCABAS, a name given by his pupils, is a French contemporary sacred artist. Born in  Tremery, France in 1926, he moved to Canada in 1969, where he was appointed guest artist by the Canadian government, and was a professor of the University of Ottawa. In 1972 he moved back to France  and founded the atelier Éloge de la Main. Since 1986, he lives and works in St Pierre de Chartreuse, near Grenoble. His works are usually inspired by stories of the Bible. Of himself and his work he says:

"I took to calling myself a painter and it is a fact that I paint ten hours a day, two hundred and fifty days a year. The hundred or so remaining days are given over to wanderings, distress and the obstinate search for a "consciousness of being", suddenly lost and without which nothing is possible, especially not the passionate and often hazardous creation of those sorts of mirrors that we call works of art.

Let's say that any clear-sighted person is revealed in their thoughts and actions which, like a mirror, reflect back their own image, revealing their true selves. In this regard, a work of art provides a good example: as a mirror for its creator, it has the further faculty of revealing in a discreet but sure way, the whole creation.

Joseph's Dream (take the Mother & Child)

Days without inspiration are dark ones. They remind us constantly, as the author of Ecclesiastes does, that all is dust and returns to dust. This very fact kills all forms of joy and hope. But on a closer look, this reality hides another axiomatic one: this cosmic dust, more or less coagulated and assembled in diverse forms, holds in its inmost being the Spirit of the Universe. Docile and friendly, this divine medium can be led astray, separated and made diabolical. But, captured in its innate unity, it bears the phosphorescent clarity of meaning and flows, thus enriched, like an incandescent river towards a greater destiny, a new form in the Creation.
This is, par excellence, the raw material, made of Earth and Heaven, that is used by artists, these frank and open imitators, to whom, for sure, God grants His smile and His tenderness."

No comments:

Post a Comment