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

Applied Theology of the Body: The Difference between Contraception and Natural Family Planning
By Dr. Donald P. Asci
St. John Paul II dedicated the entire sixth chapter of his theology of the body (TOB) catechesis to reaffirming and deepening the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood, providing his most direct and extensive application of TOB to the Church’s teachings on sexual morality. Drawing upon the teachings of Gaudium et Spes and Humanae Vitae , St... Read more
Children's Catechesis: Theology of the Body for the Very Young
By Katrina Zeno
In the book Speaking the Truth in Love , Dr. Petroc Willey offers a triadic framework for transmitting the faith: the heart, head, and hand, where hand is the process of “handing on” the Deposit of Faith. [1] I hope he won’t mind if I borrow this triadic framework and modify it slightly for teaching St. John Paul II’s theology of the body (TOB) to... Read more
Youth & Young Adult Ministry – The Miracles God Can Work in Just Forty Hours a Week: The Fruits of Boundaries in Ministry
By Andrew and Coreen Wagenbach
Who could survive a low-paying, time-consuming, unpredictable, and exhausting job for more than a few years? And if they do survive, who could possibly thrive, especially as a family? We are living proof that it is possible, but it takes an important skill that many of us were not taught: building and protecting boundaries . The first requirement... 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