In the late sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh established three colonies along the northeastern coast of what is now the state of North Carolina. In July 1587, the third and final settlement, consisting of 120 men, women, and children under the leadership of John White, landed on Roanoke Island, near the present-day community of Nags Head.
With the colonists was Manteo, a Native American of the Algonquian nation and resident of Croatoan who had traveled to London in an earlier expedition to become a liaison between the English and the Native Americans. On August 13, 1587, Manteo was baptized, the first recorded baptism of the Church of England in the American colonies and the first recorded baptism of a Native American person in the Church of England. Read more
Holy Women, Holy Men
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God, you have created every human being in your image and each one is precious in your sight: Grant that in remembering the baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare, we may grow in honoring your gift of diversity in human life; become stronger in living out our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human being; and bring into the fellowship of the risen Christ those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As God answers our prayer may we well and truly “become stronger in living out our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human life.” ~Fr. Dan
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil
Commentary by Hovak Najarian
Baptism and Temptation of Christ, Oil on Canvas, 1580-1582, Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588
During the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, the cities of Florence and Rome were major centers of art. Venetians also could boast of their art during this period; Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese were among the finest artists in Europe. Being at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea, the people of Venice were seafarers and their merchant ships sailed eastward to trade with ports throughout the region. Through trade, Venetians acquired great wealth and as was the practice (then and now), people of means acquired possessions to enrich their lives and serve as symbols of status. Inasmuch as expensive sports cars and private jets were not available, their possessions were sumptuous palaces and fine art. They also were generous in their support of public projects and the Church. Because of favorable working conditions and an opportunity to earn fine salaries, many painters, sculptors, and artisans made Venice their home. Veronese (given name Paolo Caliari), studied initially in the city of his birth, Verona, but soon was living and working in nearby Venice. In Venice, he became known simply as “Veronese,” a person from Verona.
As Renaissance art continued from the fifteenth century to the sixteenth there was a tendency toward mannerism and then from mannerism, art developed into the baroque style of the seventeenth century. “Baptism and Temptation of Christ,” painted by Veronese in the latter part of the mannerist period is baroque-like in its dramatic composition. As we enter the painting at the lower left, we see John the Baptist in shadow but we do not linger. Instead, we move past him immediately to the upper torso of Christ which is bathed in light emanating from a dove representing the Holy Spirit. Not only does Christ receive our immediate attention but also all figures in this section of the painting are focused on him. Included in this drama are a cherub and angels hovering excitedly. The dove illuminates the foreground figures while shadows of the trees close off pictorial depth.
The narrative continues as we leave the baptism and move to the right where after forty days and nights of fasting, Christ is with Satan in a clearing. A forest is in the middle ground and then in the background beyond the trees are buildings representing the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Unlike the animated scene of the baptism, the temptation of Christ is calm. Satan is not depicted with horns or forked tail but appears as an old bearded and seemingly harmless figure in a gray robe.
A visitor to Venice today may still feast visually on its art but they will not see evidence of shipping and trade. The city is supported financially now by tourists who dine at fine restaurants, ride the canals in gondolas, and feed pigeons after lunch at McDonalds in St. Mark’s Square.
May Imagine Us Beloved by Kayla McClurg invite you deeper into the “now” of the long-ago and far-away event of the Baptism of our Lord.
Imagine with me, if you will, a world in which vast numbers of people are hearing and beginning to integrate at heart and soul level that we, the same as Jesus, are God’s beloved. That we, too, are intended to hear the blessing Jesus heard at his baptism; that God bends over each of us and whispers, “With you, even in your current state of unfinished glory, with you I am well pleased.” Continue reading “A beautiful response to Luke 3:21-22”
From a technical point of view, sculptors in ancient times met success more easily than painters. When Praxiteles carved stone, physical energy was expended but he was not faced with the challenge of creating an illusion of depth on a flat surface. His block of marble was a three dimensional physical reality existing in real space; it was only necessary to carve away the areas he didn’t want. Painters, on the other hand, worked usually on flat surfaces and if an effect of depth was desired, they would have to organize visual elements to create an illusion. Progress in that direction was seen in Roman wall paintings but medieval artists had other concerns and did not seem interested in pictorial space.
During the fourteenth century, as painters studied the work of the past, they gained insights into how effects of space could be achieved. Renaissance artists were the beneficiaries of several centuries of contributions; each leading to a resolution of a particular problem. By the time Masaccio was a young man in the early fifteenth century, scientific perspective had been demonstrated and other illusion-creating devices had been established. He understood them well and utilized them with greater success than any artist before his time. Although we are always aware of a painting’s surface, Masaccio treated it as a window; as though the surface were not there. He had the insights and requisite skills to create an illusion of depth through linear and atmospheric perspective and through gradations of colors and values. Along with depth, he used value changes to suggest light sources within the space he created.
In The Baptism of the Neophytes, Masaccio modeled Peter’s robe and defined the muscles of the neophytes (new converts to Christianity) through the use of light and shadow effects. Peter is closest to the picture plane and behind him are two figures believed to be sponsors; we interpret them as being behind Peter because they are blocked partially from our view. From experience we know objects that are farther away appear smaller in size; therefore, because of size differences and being higher in the picture plane, we interpret Masaccio’s neophytes as being farther from us. Masaccio also is aware that when objects are far away, textural details are not discernable and we are not able to determine color. Atmosphere causes values to become lighter; thus, the hills in the far distance are progressively lighter in tone. Before Masaccio’s time, painters had limited success in creating a sense of depth. Masaccio created pictorial space and made it all seem natural; unless we analyze how he did it we are not consciously aware of the illusionistic devices he used.
In the lower half of this fresco, Peter is baptizing a man by pouring water over him as he kneels in a stream. After we look at the baptism, our focus shifts to the waiting neophytes and we see their facial expressions and body language. Our eyes then progress from the left side to the right and we are guided back to the central foreground figure being baptized. In addition to a convincing depiction of a Biblical event, The Baptism of the Neophytes is a very balanced composition and the continuity of images keeps us engaged.
The Baptism of the Neophytes is among other frescos painted for the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, Italy. Masaccio worked with Masolino when painting began but then when Masolino left, the frescos became Masaccio’s responsibility. Masaccio went to Rome before the paintings in the Chapel were completed and died there at the age of twenty-seven. Artists who came after him were indebted greatly for what he taught them through his paintings. It is said the Brancacci Chapel is the birthplace of the Renaissance.
This past Sunday we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism. The story has an ending filled with good news: “…a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Mark 1:11
In the Forum discussion we shared our own stories of baptism and the faith within us. In the sharing we wondered about the mystery of being “in Christ” and if we are in Christ then we, too, are “beloved.” It is almost too good to be true. It certainly is a grace, unmerited, but greatly needed. Several in the group remembered that “being the beloved” was at the center of the writing and teaching of Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996).
To further the Sunday conversation here is Nouwen in his own words:
Note: the YouTube video (you will discover) has 8 parts. You will be able to find and select Parts 2-7 in the right hand panel of the YouTube screen when viewing Part 1. Alternatively you can search YouTube using “Nouwen” as your search term.