Holy Alliance Against Sin
I just came across this photo and I want to know more about it! The only information I was able to locate is the association of this picture with something called the Holy Alliance Against Sin. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be the title of this image or an actual association that chose to either share or utilize this image as its icon.
Anyway, I find it to be fascinating. Very rarely do you see the Holy Family together with John the Baptist in such a manner. I find it interesting that Christ is present but almost as an overseer of some sort. Satan is crushed beneath Our Lady's foot while St. Joseph and little John use their staffs (indicative of authority) to hold him in place.
I'm part of a Catholic group that recently tackled a member's painting. By tackled, I mean we attempted (with increasing intensity) to figure out the subject of the painting. Over 20 women (myself included) spent almost a full month going back and forth on who the mystery saint could be! Today, we might have a solution. That being said, I asked permission to post the anonymous painting here to open the door to more discussion should anyone else have any insight into the piece. Hat tip to Nancy for letting me share!
Plus, who doesn't love to share a good mystery?
From the gate, folks were suggesting this might be the Dormition of Mary. I promptly rejected that because the girl in the photo is too young, she's dressed in pink, and she looks to be reposed in a cave (not St. John's home as Our Lady would have been). So with very little Marian symbolism present, I suggested St. Philomena (as opposed to St. Maria Goretti who was also put forth as an option).
Maria Goretti would be a viable option given the subject's youth, the presence of lilies and what could be construed as the crown of martyrdom, but again, the fact that the subject is presented in a cave kept bringing me back to St. Philomena (who during her various tortures was kept in a dungeon cavern).
Several ladies pointed out the absence of an anchor or arrows, two symbols of St. Philomena. I agreed that both were missing, but since neither were the actual instruments of her martyrdom (just her torture), the artist could have chosen to represent them, instead, through the colors of the angels' robes.
St. Philomena was tossed into the sea attached to an anchor but was rescued by an angel in full view of the city. The first angel is wearing blue. Next, Diocletian attempted to have her killed with flaming arrows (that turned on the archers in mid-air, killing them). The second angel is in a fiery gold color.
Lilies represent purity and happen to be used for many saints in sacred art. The way her hands are crossed over her heart points to her chastity (because again, chastity is not really about sexual prudishness so much as a state of being where one protects the virtue of one's heart). However, I couldn't account for the three sanctuary lamps other than to assume they represented the Trinity.
So while St. Philomena was the front-runner, no one was fully convinced this was really a picture of her.
A few weeks went by when I came across this image of St. Seraphina:
Obviously some similarities to the original painting, but nothing that would really move me off my St. Philomena track. However, posting this reopened the conversation and more digging was done by the collective. Finally, a woman by the name of Kirstin proposed St. Rosalina (a saint with whom I was entirely unacquainted!).
Apparently the daughter of "The Lord of Roses" in Italy, she went off to live as a hermit in a cave until her saintly death. Her remains were carried around the city 3 times after her death which brought an end to the Plague there (which I suggested could account for the three lights) and while the crown that awaits her isn't that of martyrdom, it can easily be the crown of immortality that artists sometimes used to depict the triumph of saints over sin (with the reward being eternal life in Heaven).
So after reading up on this new saint, the group of us is pretty certain that the portrayed is St. Rosalina. She is now patroness of Palermo, Italy as well as several cities in Venezuela.
I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was to try figuring this mystery out! Anyone else have suggestions as to who it could be (since we can't verify who she is even after all this back and forth)?
Unfortunately, we have no artist name to go off of, no date it was painted, and no other information than that which you see above. That being said, after a month of us all going back and forth, I'm feeling pretty good about our chances at having figured out who our mystery saint is! Besides, even if we're wrong, we've all learned about several new saints in the process.
Another 'We Are Catholic' Video
This was created about three years ago by a blogger at Defend Us in Battle Blog named Joe. I'm not a fan of the music choices, but I absolutely LOVE the images he chose and the various words he chooses to describe who we are as Catholics. It was picked up recently by Ignitum Today which is the only reason I was lucky enough to stumble across it.
I'm still partial to the one put out by Catholics Come Home (below), but the one above isn't half bad!
The Fiat of St. Joseph
The meme below comes to us from the talented and amusing Catholic Meme's FB page. Apparently they pulled a quote from the ever-poignant Father Dwyer of Busted Halo fame and posted it to a rather sleepy photo of dear St. Joseph.
At first glance, you might get a chuckle from it. After all, it's Catholic Memes! They are very tongue-in-cheek and self-aware. I don't think I've ever seen anything outright malicious come from their page. I don't believe this to be any different. It's meant as a light-hearted tease, I'm sure, that (hopefully) points to a more thought-provoking reflection on St. Joseph's quiet contemplation and support for his Holy Family.
However, I could also see how this can be taken to be demeaning to some husbands. Certainly there were a few women who openly heckled their men to be "less" in some way or another. Again, I don't think it was malicious. I think these folks feel comfortable with the Catholic Meme crowd and trust that their teasing won't be misconstrued as mean-spirited or spiteful.
Of course, inevitably someone finds issue with this and some comments spiraled quite a bit down the rabbit hole. However, I posted the following, which I thought was a very important point to make:
Father Dwyer (I think different from the one originally quoted, or maybe I'm just wrong altogether about who was originally quoted), obviously thought my remarks were unwarranted, or that I didn't get the joke, but my point wasn't to be a party pooper. I acknowledged my own giggle, but I didn't want the joke to overshadow a very concrete truth about St. Joseph (and judging from some of the other commentary, that's precisely what happened).
St. Joseph may have had no recorded words in the Gospel narrative, but his fatherly voice has not only resonated through the Gospels - it has resonated through the ages. His quiet, gentle leadership and protection has always been acknowledged like an afterthought. We're all about talking about the Holy Spirit or Our Lady or any number of saints, but when it comes to St. Joseph, his name only seems to be invoked when death is imminent. We don't speak of him much because we don't know much about him.
I was thinking about that because even in my own experience, St. Joseph was this distant father-figure who really didn't factor into Salvation History. He was a statue that held Baby Jesus in the Church. That's about it. That's all I knew about him - until I read The Life of St. Joseph by Sr. Maraia Baij.
I felt like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. That book was my house, and it landed me square in the middle of a world I couldn't even dream of.
As a result, I've really grown to both appreciate and admire St. Joseph's place in both my life and the Church. Thus, any time someone even remotely demeans him (even in the most tongue-in-cheek way), I can't help but feel a bit "icky." This holy, humble, super amazing father-figure should never be emasculated for the purpose of a sexist joke, ya know? At least in my opinion.
It's just off-putting for me.
Anyway, I couldn't get the meme out of my head the last few days, so I finally allowed my mind to wander on it as I drove to work.
Ya know what hit me? Joseph's actions spoke louder than words. He might not have ever had a formal "Fiat" in the manner of Our Lady, but good luck convincing me that Matthew 1:18-25 wasn't the first of many for him:
"...When his mother, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'
... When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."
Just think about it! Right after Mary said "Fiat" to Gabriel, she went off for several months to look after her cousin, St. Elizabeth. She was there for six months! Just imagine St. Joseph's surprise when he picked her up and found her to be round with Child!
Now imagine his incredulous shame as his neighbors start insinuating that Mary cheated on him while she was away with Elizabeth. St. Joseph knew Mary was a pure and holy woman, but he couldn't understand the situation as it presented itself. The poor man must've been a mess! Oh, how he must've prayed to the Father for guidance!
And God answered his prayers with a question. He basically said, "Joseph, things are not as they appear to you. You cannot see My Plan for salvation, but I'm asking you to be a part of it just the same. Can you trust Me? Can you endure the stares, the indignation, the misunderstanding of your peers and consent to allow Me to use you for the greater salvation of sinners?"
And St. Joseph, ever the faithful, loving, humble man he was created to be, gave his heart over for the sake of the world. Thus, in every way that Our Lady is, indeed, our mother, St. Joseph is, indeed, our father. Both consented to take part in God's plan for Salvation not for their benefit, but for OURS.
And that, my friends, was, is and always will be St. Joseph's "Fiat."
Gender Reveal Video
I apologize for being MIA for a while. I wanted to pass along our gender reveal since I know many of you have been praying this little one into a healthy existence. My thanks and returned prayers for your love and support. :)
Guess who found a new Christian artist to follow? THIS GIRL!
I happened across her page while scrolling through a Catholic blogging network I'm part of. I'm so happy I did, because you folks know how much I love me some Marian art. What's so interesting about Zainal's work, however, is the effort she makes to approach Our Lady with the eyes of various cultures throughout the world.
We've all seen European versions of Our Lady, but how many of us have appreciated the Blessed Mother through the lens of the Japanese, the Nigerians or the Taiwanese? Thus far, Zainal's influence is Asian in nature, but her work points to the universal beauty of our Heavenly Mother. I love this idea! I especially love how simple her pieces are. I almost want to purchase a bunch of them and turn them into a coloring book for my son because the open space begs for splashes of color.
Fun fact: Our Lady of La Vang (left) is one of my favorite "versions" of Our Lady. I think she's beautiful, regal and incredibly loving, but as Zainal points out in this description, she is also fiercely maternal. I fell in love with this image so quickly that I ended up purchasing it as a set of note cards through Zainal's Society 6 page.
In truth, I like Zainal's style (and we all know I love her choice of subject immensely). I wanted to take a moment to share her with you folks. Do yourselves a favor and check her out! You'll be so glad you did.
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