Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Blessed All Saints Day!

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
"Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
"Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?"
I said to him, "My lord, you are the one who knows."
He said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
-Revelation 7 (NABRE)


Theophrastus said...

Van Eyck's Ghent Alterpiece or Triumph Agnus Dei or Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (the central panel of which you have used to illustrate this post) is certainly one of the greatest artworks in the world. I'm a nerd, and so it might not surprise you to find out that I own three English books and one French just on this one artwork. And I spent two hours at the Sint Baafskathedraal (the seat of the Ghent diocese) admiring this amazing piece.

But the jpeg image you used to illustrate this article is not right. Not only are the colors all off, but it amputates the "dove" symbol (representing the holy spirit). Here is a link to a higher quality image of the central panel. If you want to read about the whole artwork, there are worse places to start than the Wikipedia article.

Timothy said...


Thanks for the link. Which of the English language book on the Triumph Agnus Dei do you recommend?

Theophrastus said...

I bought some of my books at the Cathedral bookstore and some of them from Europe. But one gripping US book that talks about the history of this amazing painting is Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece. You can read a a summary here.

Denis Valentin wrote a definitive (and beautifully illustrated) study, which you may find at your library or can order used.

If you'd like to read about the general artistic movement, I can recommend the nice and cheap Oxford text on Northern Renaissance Art by Susie Nash; it has extensive material on the Ghent Alterpiece.