So much time has passed since I last posted. I wish I could say that great insights had emerged and the whale spit me out, but it is doubtful. While I'm busy on other writing projects this one has been langushing...as has my spiritual growth. So that is why I grabbed with glee the book titled SAINTS: A Year in Faith and Art.
For someone interested in iconography and religious art, the physical attributes of the book are a huge plus. While thick, the size is that of a smaller, hand-held devotional. Art lovers will be in their own brand of heaven with the 380 images, each highlighting a day in the year. From early icons to adored Renaissance depictions, the saints are presented in glorious color. The book is hardbound and the basic background is the color of gold leaf. Most days have one saint, although occasionally you will run across a second depending on the painting chosen. A brief biography and a little extra info is added but the true meaning is for the art and the depiction of the saint to daily feed your soul. You'll learn the meaning of the saint's name and the traditional iconography. For example, today is November 13 and the saint is the Franciscan Saint Diego of Alcala.
Born in Andalusia around 1400, Diego chose the religious life while still young and joined the Franciscans. He was a layfather, dedicated to the sick and pilgrims, assigned the role of cook. He died in Alcala in 1463. His cult spread primarily in Spain. King Philip II of Spain promoted his canonization, which took place in 1588.
Saint Diego is represented as a youth, with the Franciscan habit, often while displaying flowers in the folds of his habit. He is invoked against infirmaties.
Name: Diego is from the Greek didaco and means 'instructed.'
The painting is Saint Diego of Alcala Heals the Sick by Joseph Liggozi, Circo 1620, Church of Ognissanti, Florence.
Of course, as I read the passage and looked at the painting I'm very aware of the problems I've been having with my knee since the surgery. But even more I had a sudden flash of the moment in the church in Florence, Italy when I rounded a corner and suddenly stood in front of an actual habit reputed to have been worn by St. Francis. It was a moment of grace for me as I stood there and took it all in. Since the moment I entered the church I'd been thinking of St. Francis but had no idea that he had actually spent time at the church, let alone knew that a relic of his lay a short walk away. I had also been drawn to a particular side chapel and didn't know why and someone then told me it had been dedicated to St. Francis. Immediately after that, I turned and went down a hallway to another room and that's when I unexpectedly found the habit. I had such an eerie feeling as I looked at the worn cloth. I number this as an early encounter with the saint and realize now that I had been on a journey toward that moment for some time.
It is said the saints are with us. In that moment, I felt St. Francis's presence. Perhaps using this little treasure of a book will help guide me back to Jonah. As I review my earlier posts I sense that I was tapping into some deeper connection or understanding of the prayer of Jonah.