Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Other Modern: Altarpieces for the Armed Forces

One of the more interesting bits of historical trivia one runs across when paging through old issues of the long-defunct Liturgical Arts Quarterly relates to the various efforts to equip army and navy chaplains during the Second World War with proper altarpieces for their chapels. The journal ran several sets of photographs dedicated to this subject, often featuring military saints in bold styles that nonetheless have a very traditional feel to them. A good representative sample can be seen below--the explosive St. Barbara with her tower, a trio of military saints and angels in the middle, and the nearly-forgotten archangel Jophiel, the name sometimes given to the angel with the flaming sword that cast out Adam and Eve, at the bottom. (A digression on the hazy canonicity of the various named archangels besides Michael, Gabriel and Raphael would make for interesting reading, but is beyond the scope of this post.)

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