Art that comforts

Vatican Museums: The Works of Mercy #6

"Proclaiming Christ means showing that believing in Him and following Him is not only true and right, but also beautiful. At the heart of the Gospel lies the beauty of God's saving love, manifested in Jesus Christ who died and rose again." Inspired by these words of Pope Francis, the Vatican Museums and Vatican News have teamed up again to explore the masterpieces in the papal collections accompanied by the words of the Popes.

Pinturicchio and assistants, The Visitation, fresco, 1492-1494, Borgia Apartments, Room of the Saints © Musei Vaticani

St. Joseph, after centuries of indifference, was finally invested with a more stable presence as a co-protagonist, sometime around the beginning of the Byzantine era and the Middle Ages. His presence at the Visitation does not appear in the four canonical Gospels, nor in any of the apocryphal gospels. Rather, he is introduced into traditional iconography from preachers’ sermons and from the revelations of mystics. St. Joseph is always depicted as a mature man, and sometimes as an elderly man. In the rich architectural background painted by Pinturicchio in the Borgia Apartments, the Saint’s age seems even more evident, though he maintains his dignified meekness. He is well-dressed and leans on a large walking stick used by shepherds. He displays a subdued and distant gaze, one usually worn by someone who has accepted his fate.

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

“Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course.”

(Pope Francis – Apostolic Letter Patris Corde)

Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
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19 March 2021, 09:00