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Art Notes: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This painting of the Assumption is a fresco by Filippino Lippi, son of the great painter Filippo Lippi, made in about the year 1485. It is to be found in the Cardinal Carafa funerary Chapel dedicated to St Thomas Aquinas in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Owned by the Dominican Order, it is the Church in which the tertiary Dominican, St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) is buried, together with another great Dominican, Blessed Fra Angelico (1387-1455). It is also the titular Church of England’s Cardinal. ‘Sopra’ means ‘over’: the Church is built over a Roman temple to the goddess Minerva. Lippi includes pagan temple architecture in his painting, but the pagan temple now is ‘for’ Our Lady, rather than for the pagan goddess Minerva. This fresco painting is positioned in the top half of the back wall of the chapel. The colours of fresco painting are particularly durable, since they are chemically bonded and integrated into the underlying plaster. They are, however, vulnerable to damp, and sadly moisture has marked and damaged the painting in several places. There are three useful catechetical points which we can make concerning this doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.