Monday, November 29, 2010

Introduction and Group Member Biographies: The Real Team Ultra Awesome

     It is our goal for this project to analyze the symbols within art that represent the Trinity as a means of better understanding this genre. In order to do this we have complied a variety of paintings, mosaics, frescoes, and sarcophagi from Rome, Florence, Venice, Siena, Paris, and London. As we began our research we quickly discovered that there was more to this type of art than a simple hand gesture and that there is much more to be considered in regard to a piece of art such as the patron, the location, the time period, or even the medium. It is through all of these things that we have learned that Trinitarian Art is much more complex than we originally thought and that in reality it is a very helpful way to understand art as a whole.

     Hi! I am 5’7” with brown hair. I enjoy candle-lit dinners followed by a long walk on the beach and a romantic kiss goodnight. Who am I? Well, in all seriousness, I am Joe. I am currently a junior at Geneva College with a major in Student Ministry. Considering the number of courses I have taken that revolve around Scripture for my major I have come to greatly admire the work of Paul, thus for my individual research paper I have chosen to look at the life of St. Paul and his importance as made clear by San Paulo Fuori le Mura. Furthermore, I analyzed Trinitarian Theology as interpreted by Paul in the book of Romans.

     With a strong love for Gerard Butler, and a passion for children my life is simply a fairytale. Okay so maybe it isn’t exactly a fairytale, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m Beth, and currently I am a sophomore at Roberts-Wesleyan College studying Social Work. While in Florence I was given the opportunity to see the magnificent Masaccio painting of the Trinity located in Santa Maria Novella. After this experience I developed an interest in the life of Masaccio, so I have decided to make that the topic of my individual research paper.

     After my daily stroll through Trastevere I enjoy reading People Magazine and eating Magnum bars but only on Thursdays of course, with my other half. You may have guessed it by now, I’m Rebekah. I attend Judson University with a major in Communication with an emphasis in Business. With training in communication I have come to appreciate the things that often go unnoticed. Raphael’s famous painting The School of Athens often overshadows its complementary painting Disputation of the Sacraments because of this fact I have chosen to look at the latter of the two paintings as well as its placement in the Vatican Museum.

     Hey y’all! While I may not have succeeded in converting a large number of Priests by a flirtatious wink, I have mastered the art of the nonverbal communication way of saying “Ciao!”, and that’s legit. In case you weren’t sure, I’m Kylie. I am a sophomore at Geneva College studying Political Science with the intent of being the future President of the United States. I have decided to look at the symbols of the Trinity and the history of the development of those symbols based on their Scriptural significance.

In bocca al lupo. Crepi!

Masaccio, The Man of the Hour: Beth Carson

     Masaccio was born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai on December 21, 1401 in Castel San Giovanni, some 28 miles from Florence. Masaccio’s father Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai was a notary and his mother Jacopa di Martinozzo was the daughter of an innkeeper from a nearby town.
     Tommaso received the nickname Masaccio (which translated means “Big Tom,” or “Clumsy Tom”) because of his absentmindedness about worldly affairs and careless about his personal appearance. He moved to Florence in 1417 and little is known about his training, but he did join the painter’s guild in 1422. What little scholars know about Masaccio is gleaned from the few paintings that we have of his.
     Masaccio was the foremost Italian painter of the Florentine Renaissance during the 15th century. Though many of his works are lost today, four of them can positively be attributed to him: a polyptych which is dispersed and some are lost, the Trinity with the Virgin, St. John the Evangelist, and Donors fresco in Santa Maria Novella, the Virgin with Saint Anne in the Uffizi Gallery, and his most notable work, the two frescos in the Brancacci Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine. Masaccio’s most well know frescos are the Tribute Money and the
     Masaccio worked on the chapel between 1424-1427/8 with Masolino da Panicale. There have been debates over whether Masolino was actually Masaccio’s teacher because they worked together for while and he was also 20 years older than Masaccio. Regardless of their relationship, they first worked with each other in 1425 to paint the polyptych of the Snow in Santa Maria Maggio. Later that same year, they started work on the Bracacci chapel.
     The human figures in Tribute Money are harmoniously arranged so that the picture as a whole is balance out and his use of strong contrast between light and shadow creates an illusion of three-dimensional figures moving in space. When looking at the fresco, the viewer’s eyes are immediately drawn to Jesus because of the convergence point behind Jesus’ head. Masaccio was concerned with realistic depiction of human beings and we can see this in the individual faces. Rather than making the figures idealized, Masaccio used the peasant class of Florence as his models. In the fresco of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, the painting not only shows the realism but the “profound sense of human emotions: the shame and dismay of the first human being as they are driven from the Garden of Paradise (Cunningham, L., & Reich, J., 1982).”
     Masaccio had teachers and friends who influenced his painting styles. One such friend was Donatello who shared a respect for the human figures and this clearly influenced Masaccio in his Trinity fresco painting. Another important figure in Masaccio’s life was Brunelleschi. “From him, Masaccio learned to incorporate figures into new spatial framework. He was the first to use the techniques of artificial perspective developed by his teacher (Cunningham, L & Reich, J., 1982). “Masaccio’s weighty, dignified treatment of the human figure and his clear and orderly depiction of space, atmosphere, and light renewed the idiom of the early 14th-century Florentine painter
     His fresco that he painted for the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Novella of the Trinity with the Virgin, St. John the Evangelist, and Donors summarizes a few characteristics of Renaissance during that time. Their interest in lifelike portraits can be seen in the depictions of two members of the Lenzi family, Lorenzo and his wife who commissioned the work. Unlike the medieval paintings where the donors are anonymous, the two Lenzi figures kneeling at the bottom of the fresco have a prominent presence in the fresco (Benton, J., & Yanni, R., 2005). Down near Jesus’ feet is Mary who is looking out toward the viewers while John the Baptist is looking at Mary. Below is an open tomb with a skeleton and these haunting words, "IO FUI GIA QUEL CHE VOI SIETE E QUEL CH'IO SONO VOI ANCO SARETE" (I once was what you are now; what I am you shall be). This can be seen as a reference to Adam, whose sin brought the downfall of humankind and a reminder to the audience that their time on earth will come to an end. It is only through their faith in the Trinity that they can be saved.
     Masaccio’s use of linear lines give the impression that the chapel is receding into the walls and right below the cross is the vanishing point, five feet from the ground, which is approximately at eye level for viewers. The painting has an intense geometrical clarity based on the pyramid, with God as the apex of the triangle formed with the lines of donors and saints of the end of the base line (Cunningham, L., & Reich, J., 1982).
     One reason I was so taken by Masaccio’s fresco was his eye for details. The intricate lines in the ceiling made the fresco realistic and I felt like I was a part of the painting, looking up at the Trinity. Masaccio drew away from other artist of that time by giving God the Father a human form. There is so much detail that God the Father even has toenails! This was unusual at the time because many artists did not depict God in a human form but as hand. The depiction of God as a hand made him seem impersonal and abstract from our lives, whereas Masaccio’s depiction made him seem like he was a human and interested in what is happening with the humans. The viewers get a glimpse of the Humanism that is soon to appear in the Renaissance.
     His use of vibrant colors and light add to the splendor of the fresco and it takes your breath away when you look up at it. “He used light to give dimension to the contour and achieved a classic sense of proportion. At the same time he created a diversity of character within a unified group and emphasized the range of emotional expression in heroic individuals (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2010)”.
     Masaccio died at the young age of 28 in Rome (most likely from the plague but some scholars believe he was poisoned due to his unexpected death) but his frescoes had a great impact on Florentine painting and were for generations the training school and inspiration of painters. It was not until 75 years after his death that his monumental figures and use of light was more fully appreciated by artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael to name some of the master painters of that time. Michelangelo often crossed the Arno River to study the frescos in the Brancacci chapel.
     Masaccio’s paintings touch me in a way that no other painter has. His work has inspired many great artists but there is also something about his work that a simple common person could enjoy and appreciate. His choice of colors and the realistic way he portrays his human figures is the reason I love his work.

Benton, Janetta Rebold, and Robert DiYanni. Arts and Culture: an Introduction to the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

Cunningham, Lawrence, and John J. Reich. Culture and Values: a Survey of the Western Humanities. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College, 1998. Print.

Lane, Jim. "Masaccio's The Trinity." HumanitiesWeb - Welcome. 2 Jan. 1999. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. <

"Masaccio." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2010): 1. Primary Search. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Murray, Peter, and Linda Murray. The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. Oxford: New York, 1996. Print.

Speck, James H. "Masaccio's Early Career as a Sculptor." Http:// College Art Association, June 1971. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.

The Apostle Paul: Intriguing, Influential, Honored: Joseph Younkin

     “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing or your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV). There is no doubt that the Apostle Paul was a very influential man in Christian history. He has done a lot in shaping the Christian religion into what it is today. He has lived a fascinating life, and is held in very high esteem by the church, in particular, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has constructed many monuments in honor of St. Paul, one in particular being San Paolo Fuori le Mura, or St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. This basilica is magnificent and has a very rich history. One of the reasons that St. Paul is held in such high esteem by the Christian religion is because of his theology. This great apostle has shaped many of the beliefs of the Christian church, including beliefs and views of the Trinity.
     St. Paul was a man who led a very interesting and exciting life. He has lived through many experiences and has also experienced God in an unbelievable way. Paul was originally born with the name “Saul” in the year 10 AD (Rayment). Paul was born in Tarsus and when he was about fourteen years old he was sent to Jerusalem to train to become a Rabbi. At the same time he was training to become a Rabbi, he was also trained to become a tent maker (Rayment). By the time Paul became an adult, he was a man who was very firm in his convictions. He was very intolerable of any kind of heresy against the Jewish religion. The main type of heresy at the time of Paul was Christianity. Paul took an active role in persecuting Christians. He was the overseer of the murder of the first martyr Stephen. After the martyrdom of Stephen, Paul went on a mission to Damascus to further the persecution of the Christians. It was on this road to Damascus that Paul’s life would be changed. On the road to Damascus Paul was confronted by Jesus in a vision who then asked Paul why he was persecuting Him. This vision of Christ had made Paul a Christian. A lot of what is known about the life of St. Paul can be found in the book of Acts in the Bible. Throughout his life, Paul went on three different missionary journeys, spreading the gospel throughout most of the world. After his third missionary journey Paul was arrested. He was then kept under house arrest for two years before he finally invoked his right as a Roman citizen for a trial before the emperor (Rayment). It is unclear what the results of the trial before the emperor were, but sometime around 64 AD Paul was put to death, many believe by decapitation. After the death of Paul, his body was buried and a small shrine was built over the grave site; this was the start of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (Sacred).
     Many years after the death of Paul a small church was constructed where the shrine was, over the grave site. The first church was built in the year 324 AD by Emperor Constantine (Sacred). In the year 386 AD Emperor Theodosius destroyed the first church and started the construction of a much larger basilica (Sacred). The basilica was then completed in the year 395 AD under Emperor Honorius. The basilica that stands in the spot today is heavily restored, but looks much like the basilica that was completed in the 4th century (Sacred). Throughout the years the care of the basilica was entrusted to the care of many orders of monks (Sacred). In the year 1823 there was a fire at the basilica (Sacred). The fire was started by a workman who was repairing the lead on the roof. This fire completely burned the entire basilica. The basilica was rebuilt, however, with the help of the whole world. The entire world contributed to the rebuilding of the basilica. One work of art that happened to survive the great fire is the great mosaic in the apse. The mosaic that is seen in the basilica today is the same one that survived the fire. This mosaic is a work of Trinitarian art. It depicts Christ, making the sign for the Trinity, surrounded by four apostles. When looking at the mosaic, to the right, Christ’s left is St. Peter; and to the left, Christ’s right is St. Paul. There is no doubt that this basilica was build to commemorate Paul because of the great effect that he had on the Christian religion. He was an excellent missionary and revealed some great Biblical truths, especially when looking at the theology of the Trinity.
     One of the many reasons that Paul was so revered as a key figure in Christian history is because of the theology that he presented. Paul was an expert at presenting theology and Biblical truths in a way that was easy to understand and live by. One particular theological idea that Paul touches on is the theology of the Trinity. Paul’s theology of the Trinity becomes clear when looking at the book of Romans in the Bible. Throughout the book of Romans, particularly in chapter eight, Paul addresses what the Trinity is, and furthermore he specifically addresses who or what the Holy Spirit is. Also, Paul addresses throughout his epistles, specifically in Romans again, the nature of the relationship between the other two parts of the Trinity, Father and Son. It becomes clear by reading the epistles of Paul that the Trinity is indeed the union of three persons in one, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
     One of the major Trinitarian theological ideas that can be taken from Paul when looking at his letter to the Romans is the nature of the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son. One major misconception that people have when they think of this relationship between the Father and the Son is that the Father “did something” to the Son. Based on what is known about Trinitarian theology however, this would not be true. In Romans 8:32 it says “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all…” (NIV Bible). When reading this passage through the lens Trinitarian theology one can see that instead of the Father giving up the Son, He is in fact giving of himself, showing the kind of selfless sacrifice that all Christians should strive to show (Daly).
     The other Trinitarian theological matter that is discussed by Paul in the book of Romans is the question of who the Holy Spirit is. There are a lot of varying positions regarding this topic, whether the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father, or the Spirit of God the Son, or a completely different person altogether. One answer to this question can be found in the book of Romans, more specifically, chapter one and chapter eight. The answer to this question appears to be a combination of all the varying positions. The Spirit is interchangeably the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the one who raised Christ from the dead (Watson). A few good verses to look at regarding the question of who the Spirit is are Romans 1:4 “and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God…” (NIV Bible); and Romans 8:9 “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (NIV Bible). By looking at these verses, it appears to be that the Spirit is a combination of the Spirit of God and of Jesus and also of its own. This is one of the mysteries that makes God such a Holy Triune Being.
     The Apostle Paul was a very influential man when it comes to the shaping of the Christian religion as it is know today. St. Paul has lived a very fascinating life, one of adventure and danger, along with spreading the Gospel to wherever his adventures took him. St. Paul has also weighed in heavily when it comes to theological matters. He has done a lot to make Biblical truths something that can be understood today. He has helped to define and identify the nature of the Trinity. It becomes clear how important this man was in Christian history when looking at the many monuments constructed for him around Rome, this great Apostle has a basilica that was build in his honor. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing or your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV).

Daly, Robert J. "Images of God and the imitation of God: problems with atonement." Theological Studies (2007): 36-51.

"NIV Bible." Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Sacred Destinations. 2005. 21 November 2010

Watson, Francis. "The triune divine identity: reflections on Pauline God-language, in disagreement with J. D. G. Dunn." Journal for the Study of the New Testament (2000): 99-124.
Rayment, W.J. 2003. 21 November 2010

A Hand, A Cross, and A Dove…The Trinity?: Kylie Gardner

    The Trinity is a Biblically based, theological foundation of Christianity that explains the nature of God taking the form of three independent beings but still existing as one God. For centuries people have tried to understand this concept that seems to be impossible yet confirmed by Scripture as truth. Due to its mysterious nature the desire to somehow represent this relationship has led to much artwork that depicts the three parts as one whole. Trinitarian artwork does a significant job of portraying the relationship between the three parts of the Trinity through its use of symbols and gestures.
     In order to best understand Trinitarian artwork, one must understand the symbols that are used as representations of the Trinity. The three main symbols of this union are the use of triangular objects or groupings of three objects, the depiction of the three parts as Father being hands typically, Son on a cross, and Holy Spirit as a dove, and the use of hand gestures. Through the use of these symbols certain pieces of art take on a new form with profound meanings.
     The most common and easily understood representation of the Trinity is the use of triangles or groupings of three objects. Because the Trinity actually means “the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according to Christian dogma…from Latin trinus meaning threefold” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary). It is inherent that due to the nature of the word “trinity” the depiction of this union would be centered around the number three. Associated with this number, and thus the Trinity, is the use of triangles. Many altarpieces have a triangular top that represents the Trinity and also points the gaze of the viewer to the heavens. The use of groupings of three objects also allows the viewer to understand that the Trinity exists as one despite the three different parts. Each part of the grouping holds a different meaning but together they complete the significance of the whole picture. This aspect of Trinitarian art truly provides the basis for understanding just how the Trinity works within Christian dogma.
     Another way to depict the Trinity is by portraying each part as separate beings with the use of their individual symbols. Typically the Father is represented as two hands reaching down from the top of the painting, with no connection to a body. The symbolism here is based on the idea that the hand of God is in all things, especially in the sacrifice of His perfect son in order to bring salvation to the world (NIV, John 3.6). By including this symbol in paintings the artist is implying that God serves as the controller of all things. It is obvious that this symbol has a significant meaning greater than the idea of simply portraying hands. God, as the Father and creator, has hands that have shaped the world and continue to influence life. By representing Him as hands, it becomes clear that God has His hand in the world as a means of guiding and directing.
     Christ, the Son in the Trinity, can be portrayed in a variety of different ways but the most common is the depiction of Him as the sacrificial servant sent to die on the cross. Christ is often seen as being on the cross in order to demonstrate His willingness to die for the sins of the world and to set the world free (NIV, Galatians 5:1). By showing Christ on a cross the artist is not only portraying His ultimate act of love and redemption, but it also shows His humanness. An important part of understanding the Trinity is understanding that Christ is the incarnate of God the Father. Christ’s humanness is seen in His death on the cross. He did in fact die, which is an act of humanity, and more than that it shows that He felt pain. Often Christ has a grimacing look on His face showing just how painful His current situation is. The representation of Christ as a man on a cross goes farther than a simple depiction of an act of love and forgiveness, it also demonstrates the very nature of Christ as both divine and human.
     The third part of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is often overlooked within the Trinity because it is not typically depicted as a human form instead it is shown as a dove. But this symbol is far more important than many people would assume as they view a piece of artwork. The dove is used in the Bible as a representation of God’s spirit, later to be known as the Holy Spirit (NIV, Matthew 3:16). By understanding that the dove represents the Holy Spirit not only do viewers have the opportunity to see the Trinity in its entirety, but it also allows them to understand other biblical references to doves more clearly. In the story of Noah’s ark Noah sends out a dove to see if the waters have been dried up and it is safe to go out onto the land or not (NIV, Genesis 8:8). By understanding that the dove is used as a representation of the Holy Spirit, then this story becomes even more significant as it demonstrates that God never left Noah’s side. The different symbols associated to the three beings of the Trinity help provide an understand of God’s nature and His working in the world.
     While the depiction of the three parts of the Trinity based on their individual symbols is commonly used in Trinitarian art, another way to demonstrate the Trinity is by using hand gestures. In artwork where Christ is depicted He is often doing something significant with His hands, and frequently these gestures are an indication of the Trinity. There are two main hand gestures done by Christ to demonstrate the Trinity. When Christ’s hand is making the gesture for “3” by touching his index finger to his thumb, leaving three fingers facing upward, He is implying the Trinity. The two fingers that are touching imply His nature as being both human and divine while the three fingers that are being held up demonstrate the Trinity. By seeing this gesture in artwork one is able to identify the painting or mosaic as being Trinitarian in nature.
     The second gesture is very similar to the first. Instead of the thumb and index finger touching, in this gesture His ring finger is touching His thumb. Again the two touching fingers represent the dual nature of Christ and the three remaining up demonstrate the three parts of the Trinity. The difference between this gesture and that of the other gesture is that the latter can be used to also indicate a sign of benediction. This is evident in the painting entitled The Virgin and Child, by an unknown artist. Within this painting the child, Jesus, is making this gesture and it has been interpreted to mean the Trinity as well as a sign of benediction. Considering this dual meaning, it becomes clear that the trinity as well as Christ’s dual nature is often seen not only as a sign of God’s nature but also implies a blessing. By understanding this interpretation, Trinitarian art becomes much more meaningful and profound.
     In her article entitled, “Symbols in Art” , Colleen Carroll explains, “Symbols can represent ideas, concepts, beliefs doctrines and feelings. Symbols can have powerful meaning and evoke strong emotion, such as the crucifix in Christianity or the Star of David in Judaism.” (Arts and Activities, 2006-07) This statement could not be more true, and while it seems to be simple, what it explains is much more complex. The symbols that artists use in their paintings are not random or by chance, each one represents something significant that adds to the meaning of the painting. Carroll argues, “For a symbol to have meaning, it's important to understand what it represents.” Without a clear understanding of what a symbol represents, it is impossible to truly comprehend the painting or piece of art. This holds true in Trinitarian art. By understand the symbols used in this genre it is easy to see their significance.
     Trinitarian art, like all artwork, is filled with meanings that are deeper than what is seen on the canvas. In order to truly grasp the meaning behind Trinitarian art it is necessary to understand the symbols and their connections to the Trinity. The Trinity is very complex and the use of art in representing the three parts can be used as a tool to better understanding such a complex doctrine of Christianity. Artwork is used to express emotions and feelings of the artist, but it is also used to inform and instruct. Trinitarian artwork does just that, it aides in the understanding of a belief in Christianity that is hard to understand because of our humanness.
The symbols of Trinitarian art did not come into being just by chance, instead they hold significance in history and most notably in Scripture. The scriptural basis for the symbols cannot be overlooked and in fact should be used in gaining a more well-rounded understanding of the Trinity as a whole.
     The Trinity is complex and confusing, but with the use of artwork that displays this relationship it is easier to understand, at least to a larger degree than before, what exactly the Trinity is and its place in Christian doctrine. Through symbols, Trinitarian art is able to explain things that may not otherwise be explainable. It is only through an understanding of these symbols, however, that one is able to truly know Trinitarian art.


Carroll, Colleen. "Symbols in Art." Arts and Activities. Sep. 2006: 27-8. Print.

New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996. the-virgin-and-child.

"The Virgin and Child." The National Gallery. The National Gallery of London, n.d. Web. 29 Nov 2010. 

"Trinity." Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2010. Web. 29 Nov 2010.

Raphael’s Overlooked Fresco: Rebekah Street

     Raphael Sanzio’s painting of “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” is regarded as a supreme work from the High Renaissance era that is considered classical art. This fresco demonstrates more than just a Trinitarian piece of artwork; it depicts the Church being present in heaven and on earth. Though this fresco was painted nearly five hundred years ago the meaning behind “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” has initiated discussion on the Trinity, the Eucharist, and the cross which are still analyzed through the church today.
     Raphael Sanzio, or better known now as Raphael, was born in 1483 and later went on to become a famous Italian painter. Today he is repeatedly compared to friend and rival at the time, Michelangelo. Raphael’s life was divided into three phases that correspond with his work of that time. The first phase is from 1504-1508 when he worked in Florence. Phase two was when he worked twelve years in Rome and phase three is when he worked for two different Popes in Vatican City. After phase one Raphael moved to Rome because he was invited by the new Pope Julius II to do some commissioned work. Raphael received this commission because Raphael’s distant relative was an architect involved with the building of St. Peter’s. (Raphael - The Complete Works)Raphael was immediately commissioned to paint frescoes in the Pope’s private library located at Vatican Palace, which was the most important commission he had received to date. Before Pope Julius II, his predecessor, Alexander VI, had employed many painters who were just starting to paint the various rooms in the Vatican, such as Michelangelo who was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Since Michelangelo was in the process of doing this work, Raphael was influenced by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and secretly looked numerous times at the ceiling before it was finished. Later, after Raphael’s death, Michelangelo accused Raphael of plagiarism but though there are similarities there is no proof of this. Raphael’s greatest works at the Vatican City are in the Stanza della Segnatura, the Room of the Signatura, or what is now referred to as the “Raphael Room.” (Raphael - The Complete Works)Even though Raphael’s original commissioner Pope Julius II died, the next successor Medici Pope Leo X, continued to use him until Raphael’s death in 1520.
     The painting by Raphael, “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” played a crucial part in Catholic Church history. This painting is a part of a few stanzas,or rooms, which were being constructed by Pope Nicholas I and were partially decorated by other artists like Piero della Francesca, Andrea del Casagno, and Benedetto Bonfigli. This was until Pope Julius II wanted the frescoes throughout the Vatican in 1508 to be continued. The group of artists that were suggested to him included Perugino, Sodoma, Bramantino, Baldassare Peruzzi, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Ruysch and Michele del Becca. (Rugghianti) The reason this room, where “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” is found, was resumed for the reason that Pope Julius did not like looking at his predecessors at every moment so he rejected the suggestions and accepted the artist Raphael, who at the time was the most prominent Florentine painter. 
     “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” was the first scene painted as a fresco by Raphael. The Stanza della Segnatura, is one of four themes covered in the frescoes: Justice, Theology, Philosophy, and Poetry. (Murray) “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” is above the entrance doors to the room of Theology. Sometimes this fresco is referred to as “The Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament” while some argue that it should be called “The Triumph of the Church.” (Sanzio) The painting has a curved architecture which creates an ideal arch of triumph, while bringing the attention of the viewer’s eyes towards heaven. While in the direct line of looking upward, the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God are in a line. Because of this painting’s meaning, some say this painting led to an excitement of revolution through the church (Rugghianti). This fresco is placed on the opposite wall of Raphael’s famous “School of Athens” that was frescoed around the same time.
    The Trinity is visibly present in the painting of “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament.” God the Father is standing above Jesus, who is seated on the royal throne showing the holes in his hands from the cross, while below him is The Holy Spirit. Jesus is in-between Mary, his mother, and John the Baptist, his cousin and forerunner. The Trinity, plus Mary and John, form an axis creating the cross. At the sides of the Trinity is the Triumphal Church which is represented with patriarchs and prophets from the Old Testament, while alternating with martyrs and apostles in the great cloud of witnesses. Some of these people are St. Peter, St. John, St. Paul, Adam, Moses, and David. Surrounding the altar, which contains the Holy Sacrament that is embodying Christ, is the Militant Church, the church on earth that is fighting Satan. (Sanzio) Other prominent religious leaders, called the four fathers of the Latin Church, are seated on the thrones around the altar. These are St. Gregory the Great, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine. (Sanzio) The main concept Raphael is trying to convey in the fresco is that the Church embodies not only people on earth but also the people in heaven.
     This painting represents “Christian victory over the transformation of the multiple philosophical tendencies shown by the “‘School of Athens.’” Instead of being in a vaulted temple like “The School of Athens” this painting uses bodies to make up the church’s architecture.(Disputation) The Eucharist when consecrated becomes the body of Christ. The Eucharist can be defined as “A sacrament and the central act of worship in many Christian churches, which was instituted at the Last Supper and in which bread and wine are consumed in remembrance of Jesus’ death.” (Eucharist) This can also be called communion. The painting shows the Trinity and the Eucharist together with the people both in heaven and on earth, jointly make up the church. This is because the church is a group of that people whom believe in those essential elements.
     The Eucharist and cross both are depicted in “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” and are of importance to the Church. Pope Benedict XIV, in 1754 a few centuries after “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament,” ordered that the Eucharist be displayed on all church altars. This symbol has now become prominent in the church, along with the cross. Crosses are not only in paintings but are now also in churches, carried in processionals, worn around the necks of believers, and used in popular culture to demonstrate religion. (Bell) The sign of the cross is a fundamental Christian gesture. The most common cross gesture is the large cross made from the forehead to the breastbone from shoulder to shoulder. This is usually performed with the fingertips on the right hand or with the thumb and first two fingers symbolizing the Trinity, while the other two fingers symbolize Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (Clarke) There has been some thought that people are idealizing the cross. Claudius, a bishop from the ninth century, said that “Christ ordered [his disciples] to bear the cross, not to adore it. On the other hand others think that if the cross is to be glorified so should other items like the crown of thorns. (Clarke) All in all the Eucharist in “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” and the cross are both elements that have risen in importance throughout the church.
     Having being a Christian for over a decade, I am familiar with the Trinity. As I walk in my faith and surround myself with Christian role models I have started to understand the idea of the Trinity being three in one. After coming to Rome and being assigned the project of the Trinity, my initial thoughts were that finding depictions of the Trinity was going to be easy. Soon I realized it was not as simple as I expected. But then I learned that the Trinity could be represented with just a hand gesture. For the digital art gallery I found most of the depictions of the Trinity in artworks, specifically paintings. After viewing numerous paintings I became drawn to paintings that were not those which depicted the standard Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus doing the Trinity sign. This is why I picked to explore more about Raphael’s “The Disputations of The Holy Sacrament.” At first glance I did not comprehend the whole scene’s importance other than it was a significant piece of artwork that was across from “The School of Athens.” By doing research and studying the painting more I have learned about how imperative every aspect is to the meaning of a religious painting.
  Raphael, though only living for thirty seven years, painted “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” which is still discussed today. Though sometimes this fresco is overlooked, because it is in the same room as the of “The School of Athens”, “The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament” demonstrates the meaning of a church being believers both living and dead while showing important elements of a church. Even though Michelangelo claimed Raphael plagiarized his ideas, Raphael’s Trinitarian painting of “The Disputation of The Holy Sacrament” still shows the purpose of a church through the Eucharist, and the cross.

Bell, Daniel Orth. "New identifications in Raphael's School of Athens." Art Bulletin 77.4 (1995): 638. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.

Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and Its Readers: a Historical Introduction to the First

Gospel. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2003. 148-49. NetLibrary. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

"Disputation over the Most Holy Sacrament." Musei Vaticani - Sito Ufficiale. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

"Eucharist: Definition from" Wiki Q&A Combined with Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Encyclopedias. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.

Murray, Peter, and Linda Murray. The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. Oxford: New York, 1996. NetLibrary. Web.

Raphael - The Complete Works. 2002. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

Rugghianti, Carlo L., ed. Vatican Museums Rome. New York: Newsweek, 1968. 110-12. Print.

Sanzio, Raphael. The Disputation of The Holy Sacrament. 1510. Vatican Museum, Vatican City.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Icon Depiction of Heavenly Liturgy

Title and Date of Work: Icon of the depiction of Heavenly Liturgy, Late 17th Century
Name of Artist: Ioannis
Exact Location: The Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece
Medium: Oil on Panel
Dimensions: Unknown

     The Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, Greece is a beautiful building and the history of its construction is just as beautiful. The main building, Villa Ilissia, was the former residence of the Duchess of Plaisance, Sophie de Marbois-Lebrun. She ordered that this building be constructed not long after the decision to make Athens the capital of Greece to be used as her winter home.
     The placement of this building is significant to the Duchess’s interest in politics. The complex is only blocks away from the royal palace, which is now the parliament building, and at the time it was located near the bank of the River Ilissos, which is now covered. Considering this placement, the Duchess was able to use her estate as a means of influencing the politics of the time. After the Duchess’s death in 1854 the building was given to the Greek state and used for a variety of things until 1926 when it was dedicated to be used as the home to the Byzantine and Christian Museum.