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Finding Faith: Greek myths and Catholic motifs are woven together

tapestry; three fates
Photo by Lucien de Guise; courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

This tapestry from the Netherlands contains clues that the Catholic world borrowed from the Classical world.

A series that looks at the visual arts for signs of the universal Church in sometimes unexpected places.

Photo by Lucien de Guise, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Christian artists have often turned to the classical world for inspiration. This tapestry was made in what is now the Netherlands, on the eve of explosive hostilities between Catholics and Protestants. The weaver picked a fairly neutral subject: the Three Fates of ancient Greece. These three women determined our destiny by spinning, measuring and then snipping the thread of life. There are clues that the mythology was seen from a Catholic perspective as it commemorates the work of the Italian poet Petrarch, a bringer-together of the Classical and Catholic worlds who later inspired the great Dutch theologian Erasmus. There is also a Catholic-looking rosary hanging from the belt of the Fate who cuts the thread of life. Lying dead at their feet is a figure representing Chastity, whose time was clearly up circa 1520.

three fates; tapestry
Photo by Lucien de Guise; courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Lucien de Guise is on Instagram @crossxcultural. As a Catholic writer, editor, curator and former museum director, his aim is to build bridges through art.

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