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Art for Mediatation - June 2023

GG 52 WebVeronese - Paolo Caliari (Verona 1528 - Venice 1588), La risurrezione del giovane di Nain, 1565-70, oil on canvas, cm 102 x 136, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Month of June. 

New Testament women: Nain’s widow. 

Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.(Lc 7, 11-17)

The Gospel episode is well known. Who knows how we have imagined the scene of the funeral of this young man, the only son of a widowed mother: the cries of mourning, the weeping of despairing tears, the black color of clothes, words like "poor woman!" "poor boy", "misfortune", "injustice" ...

The painting with which Veronese recounts the Gospel that we have just read seems to start from the end. Everyone is taken by fear and wonder (we need only to look at the apostles behind Jesus or the man with the turban that appears at the bottom right), the boy is already back to life (we see him again with a cadaveric color on the extreme left of the painting), one of the two porters - who until a few moments before was carrying him dead - is now lifting him.

And if we look at the scene, we realize that the real and only protagonist is the mother of the boy, the widow who has just obtained from the Master the return to life for her son. We would have expected the clothes of mourning, instead, Veronese has wrapped the still young and beautiful woman with a fine silk dress whose folds reflect the light and make the color shimmer; he also put a wide cape and a shawl. All this makes us think that there are no more reasons for crying and despair.

In fact, Jesus stares at her, with his right hand he seems to make a gesture to raise her from her prone position. Even the fact that we are able to see on the woman’s face - especially on her eyes - a shadow, makes me think that it could be the shadow caused by the person of Jesus, who is in front of her and is staring intensely at her. Jesus is returning her son, who had died but has come back to life!

The Gospel does not tell us the reaction of the woman. But we can easily imagine it.

An unspeakable joy! And the mother - who well knows the value of gratuitousness - did not forget to thank Jesus who resurrected her son. Putting it before our eyes and at the center of the beautiful composition, Veronese seems to show us a model of faith and dedication, a prototype of the believer in Christ.

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.

For a dead person has been absolved from sin.

If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.

Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6, 6-11

(Contribution by Vito Pongolini)