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Fr Roten Blog #7: U.S.A.

Rarified Beauty Artist unknown

There was a time, long ago for some but not so long ago for others, when religion marked a clear difference and opposition to the things of this world. The saints, people of the other world, were accordingly pictured. Embodying the triumph over the laws of gravity and transitoriness, they were meant to look disembodied. They were, as in this set, of rarefied beauty, intentionally made to so convey the impression of diaphanous and insubstantial reality. They were heavenly – and looked it. Meanwhile, the focus of the Christian message has shifted to more this-worldliness, as other nativity scenes have shown. Today, artistic taste gives preference to a more corporeal humanness. However, the pendulum of history keeps swinging in two directions, meaning that there is – in the long run – no this-worldliness without other-worldliness. Distance and purity – as pictured in this nativity scene – have perennial value

Reprinted with permission: University of Dayton, Marian Library Collection. All rights reserved.

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