December 2, 2012

venter tuus sicut acervus tritici

Advent underlines the 'in between-ness' of all spiritual life. We feel ourselves suspended in prayer between the first and second comings of Christ. We lie down between hope and memory, know their mutual embrace, and get up to take the path again for the first time.

Within that, I mark a couple of moments. I've been here in Italy for six months now, as I find myself entering one of the privileged seasons for the first time. I came here on the Monday after Pentecost, so it has been Ordinary Time since then.

Here's the curia chapel in her Advent outfit:

The green cloth is just a covering for the altar.

Here's a closer picture of the icon of the Virgin of the Sign:

Striking, isn't it? At first glance, I thought the four figures in the tree would be the four evangelists, but they're not. The lower two are Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the upper two are David and Solomon. The iconographer happens to be one of the friars here, so I asked him about it, and here's what he said:

"It's the tree of Jesse [who is seen dreaming at the bottom]. From the stump has sprung the branch, and from the branch the flower, that is the flower of the Virgin and from her the Savior. It is the genealogy of Jesus, with Jesse the father of David, the father of Solomon, the ancestors of Jesus, but it is also the throne of Grace and Wisdom. On top rest the seven gifts of the Spirit. The prophets indicate the expectation of the promise fulfilled in Jesus. From the stump of Jesse comes a new shoot and from the shoot a new tree."


Judy Kallmeyer said...


Louis M said...

Cool 8-)