The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Inspired through Art: The Beauty of Mercy

Authored by Linus Meldrum in Issue #2.1 of Catechetical Review
A manuscript illumination from the medieval Bedford Hours How can we understand mercy? When mercy flows, it washes away time and place. Mercy is a mystery that springs from the heart and contains a borderless charity that does not point at the sinner nor to sin; instead, mercy restores unity. According to St. John Paul the Great, mercy also removes any hierarchy between subject and object. In his encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Richness in Mercy), he writes that mercy does not set the forgiving person against the one being forgiven; rather, mercy creates a destination to which all may arrive and invites the participants into this place of restoration. Our participation in this boundless quality of mercy is an outcome of divine grace, outpoured upon us as a result of the Paschal Mystery; it helps us to grow in holiness and be more like our merciful Father, the Author of mercy. This image is a page from a book that has come to be known as the Bedford Hours, an early 15th century illuminated manuscript form of a “book of hours”—a devotional book of prayers and meditations set to the readings in the Daily Office or Liturgy of the Hours. We don’t know who commissioned this Bedford Hours, but it took its name from the Duke of Bedford, John of Lancaster, when his wife Anne of Burgundy, purchased it for him sometime after their marriage in 1423. Recent scholars believe that the “Bedford School,” a group of artists, produced the book. The “Bedford School” included one anonymous master called “the Bedford Master,” who produced this crucifixion, which accompanies the prayers for the Hour of None, the ninth hour or 3:00 pm. The book took many years to become what we see today. The image, as many illuminations found in the late medieval period, contains figurative scenes, enlarged and complex letters, carefully executed lines of text, and elaborate border decoration. The artist uses an entire banquet of visual forms: banderoles, which are unfurling banners that provide spaces for dialogue text, especially the last words of Jesus; roundels, which are small openings with supporting scenes of other moments from the Passion; elaborate capital letters, such as the “D” to start the words Deus and Domine and the “O” to start O God and O Lord; as well as expansive marginalia filled with lavish decoration.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

A Return to the Kerygma: The Path to Renewal
By Chris Stefanick
Free If you find yourself in a fight, your extremities get cold. Your adrenaline kicks in and blood rushes to your core to pump your heart, support your lungs, and power your muscles so they can keep you alive. Moments of crisis are signals to get back to the heart of things. This isn’t only true of your body but of any institution. If a business is... Read more
Why Beauty Matters for Catechesis and Catholic Schools
By Dr. Roland Millare
In modern culture, relativism reigns supreme. Consequently, the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty no longer seem to transcend beyond the subjective whims of every autonomous individual self. Truth is a matter of one’s opinion. Goodness is relative to each person. Beauty is a matter of personal preference. Catechists and Catholic... Read more
Inspired Through Art: Mass of St. Gregory by Diego de la Cruz c. 1490
By Linus Meldrum
The Mass of St. Gregory depicts a miracle in the life of Pope St. Gregory the Great, who died in Rome on March 12 of AD 604. According to tradition, he and others experienced the appearance of Jesus as the pope celebrated a particular Mass. It is considered a eucharistic miracle because of the circumstances surrounding the event. We learn of this... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now