Franciscan Sisters Highlight Caravaggio’s Nativity

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

December 18, 2014

What’s Christmas without an image of St. Francis and the Nativity!  Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity highlight Caravaggio’s dramatic painting ‘ the Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence.  This artwork was actually stolen in October 1969 from the church of San Lorenzo in Palermo. Some think that Caravaggio “associated the idea of advent of Christ not with the joy of Redemption, but with a future that was at best uncertain”.

nativity_with_st_francis_and_st_lawrence (2)Here’s an explanation of the painting: “Under the roof of the stable in Bethlehem, whose side walls are disappearing into brownish darkness, shepherds and saints gathered to worship the newborn Christ-child in such a way that we can make out Archdeacon Lawrence on the left only after a second look, and viewers may well mistake St Francis for a shepherd. One figure, the patron, represents the church for which the picture was intended, and the other, the Order to which the church belongs. We cannot be entirely sure who Joseph, the foster-father, is.

The center of the picture is shared out between the figures who have come to worship. The naked Christ-child lies there on a bed of straw and some white drapery. Exhausted, the Holy Virgin is crouching on the ground behind him  looking at the child. The ox, which appears behind St Lawrence, is also looking in that direction. Above all this, an angel is flying down from heaven. In his left hand he is holding a banner on which the words of the gloria are written. His right hand is pointing upwards, as if, by also looking at the baby, he wanted to reassure the Christ-child that he really is the Son of God.” (Wikipedia)


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