Visio Divina Nov. 24

Christ Crowned with Thorns
Guido Reni, Christ Crowned with Thorns Art Gallery of Ontario

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Luke 23: 35-43

The leaders scoffed at Jesus saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked Jesus, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Visio Divina

1.Visio (See) Look at the art. What do you see? What is happening?

2.Meditatio (Meditate) How does it make you feel?

3.Lectio (Read, Context) Read the Gospel passage above. Read the Seeds of Faith post by Christine Way Skinner and the commentary on an almost identical painting at London’s National Gallery (see below). What are the common points between the Gospel, the excerptand this photograph.

4.Oratio (Pray) Silently sit with this image opening yourself up to the flow of the Holy Spirit.

5.Contemplatio (Ponder) How is God speaking to you in this Visio Divina? Share your thoughts by writing them or telling them.

6. Operatio (Act) Because of this Visio Divina, what acts or changes in thinking do you want to happen in your life?

Visio Divina Links on CARFLEO

A crown of thorns was placed on Christ’s head in the lead up to his crucifixion, while Roman soldiers mockingly declared him ‘King of the Jews’ (Matthew 27: 29). This detailed portrayal of Christ’s face convincingly conveys his anguish in the aftermath of this torment. Barbs pierce his forehead and blood dribbles down his cheek, and he looks heavenward with an expression of pain and desperation.

Guido Reni and his studio produced numerous versions of this composition, though this work may have been painted by a later follower of the artist, perhaps as late as the early eighteenth century. The early provenance of the work is unknown, though a painting by Giovanni Paolo Panini shows it on display in Cardinal Valenti Gonzaga’s picture gallery in Rome in 1749 (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford).

The Head of Christ or Ecce Homo is one of the most frequently represented subjects in seventeenth-century painting. Portrayals of Christ’s suffering became increasingly popular after the Counter-Reformation, as such images provoked empathy and devotion in viewers. One of the functions of seventeenth-century art was to instil an understanding of human experience, and Reni’s expressive, close-up images of the suffering Christ did just that. In keeping with Counter-Reformation ideals, Reni’s inclusion of Christ’s blood in many of his representations of the subject may allude to transubstantiation in the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist (that is, the conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ at consecration).

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