Art that comforts

Vatican Museums: “Not my will, but yours be done”

As the Church marks Good Friday, we draw inspiration from Giovanni di Paolo’s “Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane” from the Vatican Museum’s Pinacoteca.

Giovanni di Paolo, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane; 1440-45; tempera on a poplar panel, Vatican Pinacoteca (© Musei Vaticani)

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

Around 1445, the famous Sienese artist, Giovanni di Paolo, created this panel of a predella that depicts Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is night. Jesus is shown kneeling in the foreground with his hands extended to receive the chalice the angel is handing to Him. Behind Jesus, a short distance away, are the three sleeping disciples, besides whom is another group of disciples overcome by sleep. A river divides the scene beyond the garden, where various species of trees are seen, while a group of soldiers with lances and lighted torches prepare to cross the bridge on their way toward Jesus.

“Jesus’ prayer is the place where we perceive that everything comes from God and returns to Him. Sometimes we human beings believe that we are the masters of everything, or on the contrary, we lose all self-esteem, we go from one side to the other. Prayer helps us to find the right dimension in our relationship with God, our Father, and with all creation. And Jesus’ prayer, in the end, means delivering oneself into the hands of the Father, like Jesus in the olive grove, in that anguish: ‘Father, if it is possible … but may your will be done.’ Delivering oneself into the hands of the Father. It is beautiful, when we are agitated, a bit worried, and the Holy Spirit transforms us from within and leads us to this surrendering into the hands of the Father: “Father, let your will be done’.”

Pope Francis – General Audience, 4 November 2020

Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza

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07 April 2023, 08:00