Monday, August 15, 2016

The Ark was seen in the Temple

I love this image from  the Beatus Facundus, it is a simple theological statement as bold as the colour scheme of this extraordinary theological work. It simply says Mary is in heaven clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and adorned by the stars.

The woman with the moon under her feet and the dragon has more significance in the Iberian peninsula that was struggling with the liberation of Spain during the lengthy reconquest period, which was fueled in part by the expectation of the second coming as the end of the first millennium drew near.

It comes from that period when East and West had a common theology.
The double page illustration adds depth: God has rescued her. Though the dragon seeks her destruction it is held at bay by angels, who will eventually subdue Satan.

Looking at these illustrations there is sense that they are concerned about theological fact: Mary, the Woman is in Heaven. They are not concerned with the mode of her transferal but with the statement of what scripture states, In comparison the artistic depictions of the Assumption from Trent onwards and even Munificentissimus Deus seem a little effeminate, even prissy, little wonder another priest can speak of the definition of Pius XII as 'radical austerity, the innovative agnosticism'.

Although the story of an Apostolic Funeral following Our Lady's passing is charming, and illustrates well Our Blessed Lady's death, it is obviously an illustration of and not root of the doctrine of the Assumption. This comes from the New Testament Apocalypse 11:19, where John says, 'Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the Ark of his Covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm'. He then speaks immediately aftewards of, "the Woman", who is obviously Mary, and yet is also the summation of all the women of the Old Testament. Mary is the ark who contains not the symbols of the Old Covenant; the manna, the tablets of the Law and Moses' staff but the bread come down from heaven, the Law writ on a heart of flesh and not the symbol of Moses' authority but the source of it.

If we are to have a truly Christian faith, we must learn to love Mary as did Christ and the Apostles, and give her the same honour she is given in the New Testament.


Nicolas Bellord said...

Beatus of Liebena is particularly interesting at the present time. He took issue with the Archbishop of Toledo who thought he could do a deal with Islam by denying the Trinity claiming that Jesus was merely an adopted son. They exchanged wonderful insults and the Pope sent Alcuin of York to put the Archbishop right. There is a very good exhibition on the Apocalypse in the local town of Potes near Beatus's monastery of Santo Toribio which has the largest relic of the True Cross in the world. An area well worth a visit.

Pelerin said...

Isn't it a pity that the whole Church did not celebrate the beautiful Feast of the Assumption on the same date?

I note from my diary that it was even on two separate days in Britain - in England moved to the Sunday but in Scotland celebrated on the Monday although as there is no cross beside the date I presume this means that it was not actually even a Holy day of Obligation. I now learn that in the US it was also moved to the Monday but not as a Holy day of Obligation either whereas in France it was celebrated on its 'proper' day of Monday and was also a Holy day. Because the 15th August is a National Holiday there, there would probably be demos if it were to be moved to the nearest Sunday and the people lost their day off!

So this year you have the Feast on Sunday; the Feast on Monday as a Holy day; and the Feast on Monday but not as a Holy day depending on where in the world you happen to be at the time.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I thought that the Bishops Conference of EW was said to be reconsidering this lamentable business of transferring major feasts but that was some time ago. What is happening? I assume nobody in any official position will tell us.

Matthew Roth said...

It’s beautiful to me that whatever is said about Our Lady is also said about the church, or perhaps vice versa: Rev 12:1 was applied to the church, then the Virgin.

JARay said...

Well, here in Australia, we had the Feast of the Assumption on Monday the 15th August and indeed is was a Holy Day of Obligation, which is indeed a rarity here. We don't have any other Holy Days of Obligation because they have all been tranferred to the Sunday (except, of course, Christmas). As it happened, I was travelling that day so I started with early Mass at 6-30 am, and I ended at the Monastery of New Norcia in the evening with Solemn Vespers.
A good day, I thought.

John Fisher said...

I would not imagine "Solemn" Vespers at New Norcia was worth the many hours trip?

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