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Protestant Art, Catholic Setting: Is This Kosher?


William Newton - published on 03/31/16

Public Domain
Public Domain

Among Bloch’s religious images, I have always particularly loved his painting of “The Visitation.” In it, a very young and beautiful Virgin Mary is shown arriving at the home of her cousin St. Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judea. Bloch has shown us that moment in time just after the Blessed Mother called out to St. Elizabeth, to let her know of her arrival, and the unborn St. John the Baptist has leapt in his mother’s womb for joy. St. Elizabeth has thrown her arms wide as she prepares to embrace her younger cousin, crying out, “Blessed are you among women!” as the younger woman mounts the stairs. It is not only a beautiful picture to look at, showing the love between these two women, it is also a wonderful image upon which to ponder and meditate, when reflecting on the Incarnation or praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary.

To dismiss, out of hand, the use of a piece of religious art in a Catholic publication simply because it is the work of a Protestant is to display one’s ignorance. While the history of Protestantism in art is too complicated a subject to cover in a single piece, the examples considered above are but a few of the many instances in which, down the centuries, Catholics have employed works of Protestant art in Catholic settings or projects to good effect, inspiring pious reflection among the Catholic faithful.

But Cranach is still a terrible painter, and so is his son.

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