Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is said to have been born on 29 September 1571 and to have died on 18 July 1610, although Wikipedia has question marks beside both of these dates.

Arrogant, rebellious and a murderer, Caravaggio’s short and tempestuous life matched the drama of his works. Characterised by their dramatic, almost theatrical lighting, Caravaggio’s paintings were controversial, popular, and hugely influential on succeeding generations of painters all over Europe.

The Supper at Emmaus (1601), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The Supper at Emmaus (c 1600), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to Emmaus after the Crucifixion when the resurrected Jesus himself drew near and went with them, but they did not recognise him. At supper that evening in Emmaus ‘… he took bread, and blessed it, and brake and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight’ (Luke 24: 30-31). Christ is shown at the moment of blessing the bread and revealing his true identity to the two disciples.

The majority of the text presented here is adapted from the National Gallery web-site.

The image reproduced here comes from the Betty Baroque blog.

See also Wikipedia’s article on Caravaggio.

Epiphany

Epiphany (Greek: επιφάνεια, “the appearance, miraculous phenomenon”) is a Christian feast intended to celebrate the ‘shining forth’ or revelation of God to humankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches, and included the birth of Jesus; the visit of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The feast was initially based on, and viewed as a fulfillment of, the Jewish Feast of Lights. This was fixed on January 6. (WordIQ)

Owing no doubt to the vagueness of the name Epiphany, very different manifestations of Christ’s glory and Divinity were celebrated in this feast quite early in its history, especially the Baptism, the miracle at Cana, the Nativity, and the visit of the Magi. But we cannot for a moment suppose that in the first instance a festival of manifestations in general was established, into which popular local devotion read specified meaning as circumstances dictated. It seems fairly clear hat the Baptism was the event predominantly commemorated. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Epiphanies of sudden comprehension have also made possible leaps in technology and the sciences. Famous epiphanies include Archimedes’ realization of how to estimate the volume of a given mass, which inspired him to shout “Eureka!” (“I have found it!”). The biographies of many mathematicians and scientists include an epiphanic episode early in the career, the ramifications of which were worked out in detail over the following years. For example, Albert Einstein was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move. An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle. (Wikipedia)

… and a little child shall lead them

The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him. (Pablo Casals)

The church has traditionally celebrated the feast of the Holy Innocents around this time of year. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Latins keep it on 28 December, the Greeks on 29 December, the Syrians and Chaldeans on 27 December. These dates have nothing to do with the chronological order of the event; the feast is kept within the octave of Christmas because the Holy Innocents gave their life for the newborn Saviour.”

There’s an interesting article on the subject on the Bible Archaeology website, and you might want to read the Wikipedia article, Massacre of the Innocents.

Something to think about …

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6; Douay-Rheims Bible)

Religion vs magic

The only real strength of any religion is derived from its pilfering of Magical doctrine; and, religious persons being by definition entirely unscrupulous, it follows that any given religion is likely to contain scraps of Magical doctrine, filched more or less haphazard from one school or the other as occasion serves. (Aleister Crowley, from Magick Without Tears)

Fascinated by magic from an early age, and at the same time drawn to the Christian liturgy, it was only later that I began to recognise the multi-faceted relationship between the two.

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The AC quote is from Ewakening, one of the sites on my blogroll. Thanks.