Visio Divina - or sacred seeing - is an ancient form of Christian contemplative prayer in which one observes a sacred image, and contemplates in silence what the Holy Spirit might be saying to them through the picture. It is similar to lectio divina - in which one seeks to hear what God is saying through contemplating a passage of Scripture. There are many helpful resources about vision divina one of which is made available in the Gallery for your consideration. It is titled Meeting God through Art: Visio Divina: A Guided Prayer Journal with Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will find it located on the fireplace mantel. Feel free to explore that.
The pictures selected for this display revolve around the week of Christ's passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection. As you encounter each work of art, take time to be silent and ask God to help you observe. Take time to notice what catches your attention in the picture. You may want to write it down. Read the Scripture passage. What do you think the artist is saying about the passage? What resonates with you? What does that stir within you? Look away briefly, then take another look. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you through this artwork? What do you want to say to God in response?
Here are some steps to guide your process.
You may decide to view only 1 picture each day. You can journal your reflections. You may decide to do this by yourself or with friends with whom you can share what God is saying to each of you. You will find that each time you return to view and contemplate the work, the Holy Spirit may take you to deeper levels of communion and understanding of what you are being called to do. May the Holy Spirit speak to you through this artwork, that you may more clearly reflect the light of Christ.
As you may know, many of our art displays also feature music, but in honor of Lent, this display is held in silence, the better to hear what is in our hearts and what the Lord may be saying to us.
Now as He [Jesus] drew near [Jerusalem], He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes."
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
Flevit super illam (He wept over it)
Enrique Simonet 1892
Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
Jesus Enters Jerusalem
Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”
Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple
Joseph Mallord 1832
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
Judas Iscariot Retiring from the Last Supper
Carl Bloch 1876
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Agony in the Garden
Frans Schwartz 1898
And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Taking of Christ
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
The Denial of St Peter
Gerard van Honthorst 1623
Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”
So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”
Christ in front of Pilate
Jezus przed Pilatem
Mihaly Munkacsy 1881
Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
Christ Carrying the Cross
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Salvador Dali 1954
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.
The Lamentation Over the Dead Christ
Andrea Mantegna 1470-1474
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”
And they remembered His words.