Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
I promised a narrative for the painting, so I hope the following helps.
Like apparitions in general (to outsiders that is), the composition of the panel is all over the place - events and images and messages are dissected and examined individually and yet still pose questions for interpreters. Children and the simple usually seem to grasp the content and meaning of an apparition much better than scholars and theologians, and of course, the full meaning of the events and images is only more clearly understood after the passing of time. Therefore my composition is pazzi - crazy - it almost looks like a poster illustrating feature events while promoting something.
Top to bottom.
The mystical, the heavenly and the prophetic revolve in suspension at the top of the panel. The Holy Trinity, God, is at the center of things, the source of light as well as the author-ity for the message. The mandorla presages the miracle of the sun as well.
The globe at the right of the panel is taken from the outer doors of a triptych by Hieronymus Bosh, only the contents of the object have been re-constructed to convey one aspect of the secret revealed in 2000: "the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way..." (Sr. Lucy) Even within the secret there are layers of scenes - I separated this within a globe of light, which is repeated elsewhere on the panel, since Lucy and others spoke of seeing Our Lady approach as in a globe of light before the apparitions. In her memoirs, she quotes Francisco as seeing everything "in the light that is God". In the text concerning the third part of the secret, Lucy writes, "And we saw in an immense light that is God, something similar to what people see in a mirror when they pass in front of it..."
I can't help but think that if these things happened today, the seers would compare the visions to what it is like to view something on an LED screen or computer screen rather than a mirror. Therefore I tried to show another part of the secret in a more surreal manner at the center of the panel - as if on a digital screen.
The bishop dressed in white "going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross of roughhewn trunks, etc.." The Holy Father is seen walking towards the mountain, the cabeco, or Golgotha, topped by the cross which is only partially shown. Above the 'screen' is the Crucified Christ of Dali, looming from the cosmos, who sanctifies all the martyrs, who, dressed in white as well, are shown entering and leaving, ascending and descending, the scene. Their sacrifice indicated by the blood dripping from the summit of the mountain. I do not show the Pope shot or dead, the blood hints at all of that. Instead I show a Pope walking placidly towards the mountain... As Cardinal Ratzinger said; "We must affirm with Cardinal Sodanno: '...the events to which the third part of the secret refers now seem part of the past'. In so far as individual events are described, they belong to the past."
Seem. That leaves the interpretation somewhat open. Though I agree with what the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith taught, I painted Benedict XVI as the Pope who walks toward the mountain. Unless this is as good as it gets regarding Our Lady's promise of peace if her wishes are met, it seems to me the prophecy at Fatima may yet be playing out. (My personal speculation of course.)
To the right of the screen, we see an angel, disintegrating, holding an aspersorium dripping with the blood of the martyrs, this corresponds to that part of the secret which says, "Beneath the cross were two angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered the blood of the martyrs and sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God." Cardinal Ratzinger suggested the imagery used by Lucy may have been inspired by "images she may have seen in devotional books..." therefore I employed traditional iconography to illustrate this aspect, hinting at multiple angels by showing the Eucharist in the angel's other hand. Although not part of the secret, prior to the apparitions of Our Lady, the children experienced preparatory visitations by an angel who also distributed Communion to the seers. To the right of the angel is another apparition from 1915, which simply appeared as a cloud above a group of trees in the form of an unknown figure.
The upper left of the panel images that part of the secret which describes Our Lady's intervention in time; "At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with flaming sword - flashing it gave out flames that looked as if they would set the world on fire, but they died out in contact with the splendor Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand the Angel cried in a loud voice: 'Penance, penance, penance!'"
As stated many times, the Secret of Fatima is comprised of three parts - what I've described is my imaging of the third part. The other parts include the revelation of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shown on the panel in a luminous globe between the earth and Our Lady. To the right of Our Lady is an indication of the sign she promised which would precede the next war (WWII) if her requests went unheeded. Sr. Lucy said it was an unusual aurora borealis that most of Europe witnessed.
In the lower corner is the vision of hell - which Our Lady explained thus, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." This remains the most important part of the secret. (Of all the horrors of war, genocide, and immorality (abortion) of the 20th century, including the disruption in the Church, Our Lady presents hell as a much greater evil than anything else.) As Sr. Lucy insisted in a letter to John Paul II in 1982: "The third part refers to Our Lady's words: 'If not (Russia) will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated'.
The third part is a symbolic revelation... and if we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides." Letter of May 12, 1982.
Very quickly then, I show the children experiencing the vision, the envelope containing all we ever knew of the third part of the secret (until the year 2000) suspended above them. In a globe of light I show the original Basilica at Fatima with the Holy Father and his entourage entering - Our Lady specifically asked for a chapel to built, and is therefore part of her requests. In the lowest left corner is a penitent contemplating the mystery, standing on the shore of the sea, which also forms a subtle question mark (partially cropped off in the photo) - leaving room for doubt. Not as to the veracity of the revelations, but rather as to whether or not they are simply 'a part of the past'.
I think not.
[I forgot to mention the nuclear explosion at the upper right - representing what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as well as the continued threat of nuclear war. In the upper left is the crescent moon and star, suggesting a connection to Islam and the threat to Christian culture.]