Mere Catholic Miscellany

Devoted to the Traditions of Catholic Christendom, Eastern and Western


2.11.2012 Dear Friends

I regret my very long absence from Tumblr.  Things are very busy here in the monastery.  

I will resume posting, but I have decided to do so not here at Mere Catholic Miscellany but at my newer tumblog, Analecta Monastica.

I would be grateful if you would follow me there.  God bless you, and a blessed feast of Our Lady of Lourdes!




Johann Sadeler I  - The Announcement to the Shepherds (1587). Detail.



The Stanbury Chapel in Hereford Cathedral, England. One of the most tiny, beautiful rooms I’ve ever had the fortune to step into.

(Source: funeral-wreaths, via arthistorycq)



On December 18, we celebrate the feast day of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reminding us that we, too, expectantly wait for the grace and joy of Our Lord and Savior, born on Christmas day. We remember that Jesus was “pre-born” at the moment of the Incarnation, that the Word became flesh when Our Blessed Mother assented to God’s plan, as she spoke to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. That feast, on March 25, predates today’s feast by nearly nine months.

We can try to imagine what those nine months were like for The Blessed Virgin, knowing that the Lord grew within her, was one with her. We can only begin to understand the patience she had to possess, looking forward to both the glory and joy of the divine birth. We experience these same feelings—albeit to a lesser extent, no doubt—during this Advent season of preparation. We examine our lives, and look forward to the saving grace of our Lord, as mediated by Our Blessed Mother. While the Lord’s plan was first enacted at the moment Mary was conceived without sin, and made manifest to the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation, it was made evident to the world at the moment of the Nativity. Prior to that, Mary had seen and heard what others had not, and she had only one more week to anticipate the arrival of her son, Our Lord, the Redeemer of the World!

Our Blessed Mother was the original tabernacle, in which the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Saint Augustine wrote that Mary conceived the Word in her heart before she conceived the Word in her flesh—that as she anticipated the birth of Jesus, her faith grew simultaneously. The second Vatican Council declared that during the time of her pregnancy, the heart of the Incarnate Word beat gently below her immaculate heart: two immaculate hearts, beating silently and prayerfully as one.

We can imagine Mary’s nine-month journey as one of wonder and anticipation, but given the circumstances she found herself in, we also know of her difficult journey, the doubts of Saint Joseph, the anxiety that she must have experienced during that time. But Our Blessed Mother demonstrated not only patience, but also forbearance and deep trust in the Lord. She knew the road would not be easy—in fact, that her joy would almost certainly be linked to suffering throughout her life—but in hope and confidence placed her life in the Lord’s hands. As she prepared for the birth of Jesus, Mary emptied herself, allowing her body and soul to be filled with the grace and spirit of the Lord. During Advent, we pray for a similar experience, that we might approach the birth of Our Savior with hope and confidence.



The interior of the church of the Panagia Evangelistria in Tinos, Greece.

Tinos has been a place of pilgrimage since the early 19th century, when an icon depicting the Annunciation was found there after Mary has appeared to an old man and a nun. To the old man she said:

Listen! I am the Panagia (the all-holy one). I want you to dig in the field of Anthony Doxaras where my icon is buried. I ask you to do this as a favor, old man. You will build a church there and I will help you.

(via thedoors-thedoors)



A Byzantine mosaic in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

(via sermoveritas)






Gilded and Jeweled Gospel Cover
Georgian, 11th century

(via bibliofila)



The Baptism of Saint Prince Vladimir 

Viktor Vasnetsov, 1890 



Façade of the Orvieto Duomo - Lorenzo Maitani, 1310 - 1456

This façade in Orvieto shows a very painterly design, again reinforcing the preeminence of painters as architects in the trecento. The façade is broken up into three distinct levels, with relief sculptures at the bottom and the four bronze symbols of the evangelists decorating façade, a huge technical feat during this time. Sheets of alabaster cover the windows, a nod to the papal influence that was exercised over the construction of this church. There are also twisted columns, another allusion to Rome and the papacy; these columns can be considered the architectural equivalent of cosmati work, another symbol of the papacy.