Learning through Art: St. Michael Defending the Church

Authored by Dr. Caroline Farey in Issue #33.2 of The Sower

This painting by Michael O’Brien, a modern day Canadian writer and painter, is one that deserves our time and meditation. It is a painting in which the perspective is one of particular importance.

In our catechesis, this painting can be used especially well with children so that they can see the greatness of the protection of Archangel Michael. For children, their small lives can seem so easily to be overwhelmed by events outside of their control, and the devil and the raging waves of the sea graphically depict this. But the comparative size and evident protecting power of St Michael is deeply reassuring.

There are a number of passages from the Scriptures which could be used alongside a catechesis using this painting. From the Old Testament we have the story of Jonah who is caught in a great storm and is thrown into the waves, from which God saves him and brings him safely to land (Jon 1:4-17). Perhaps the passage that springs most immediately to mind, though, is from the Gospels, where the disciples are caught in a storm and fear for their lives (see Matt.8:23-27, Mk.4:36-41, Lk8:22-25). In this episode it is clear that the disciples in the boat are also an image of the Church in every age, crying out for assistance as waves of tribulation and fury beat down upon them. St Matthew, in fact, in his telling of this episode, has the disciples calling out ‘Save us, Lord!’, an echo of the kyrie elesion in the liturgy we sing each Sunday.

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This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

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