Saturday, September 19, 2009

San Marco

I cannot believe that I forgot to mention earlier my visit to San Marco - it was ineffable. (I think it being the last thing I did before catching the train back to Rome may explain my oversight.)
What an indescribable experience, to stand awed before so much truly great art, and greatest because so faithful in witnessing to the truth about our Incarnate God.
I had to remind myself that these were the originals! Amazing.
Fra Angelico is indeed a pictor angelicus, and blessed, for his art seems to lift the mind to contemplation in a wonderful fashion. While that holy friar (Bl John of Fiesole, whose tomb at the Minerva I visited last week) was not beatified for his art, but for the heroic witness of his life adorned by a miracle, it could be said that the unique quality of his art as an aid to prayer is itself a moral miracle, wrought through him by the Lord: for Christ is the supreme Artist.
I must say I was, if not in heaven, at least lifted to contemplation by beholding such staggeringly lovely works of art, through which beauty, truth and holiness shine forth. The many images of Our Lord crucified moved me to compunction - I had to strike my breast in sorrow and confusion, as the crowds did that first Good Friday.
The only blot on my visit to San Marco was to overhear yet another loud, rude, ignorant, judgemental, self-satisfied (and, yes, American) tourist, who commented excessively loudly to her friend about Savonarola (whose cells we were viewing): "Well, I guess he just didn't know the meaning of 'All things in moderation'". Her smugly complacent words made me boil with anger - I almost turned and told her off for being a stupid cow. Mea culpa?

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