Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Feast of All Saints 2011: the Praise of God by All Creation

From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints:
As we venerate the Saints with this special festivity, it is worthy that we begin our praise with Him Who adorned the heavens with the Angels, and the earth with His other creatures, that He might be praised by all. Indeed, because He is in Himself the fount of goodness, needing not our goods, (Psalm 15, 2) excluding no one from a share in His light, in order that He might be known, He made the rational creation to understand Him as the greatest good, and so understanding to love Him, so loving Him to possess Him, so possessing Him to delight in Him; and in this course, it not God Himself, but the creature that benefits. Therefore as we praise Him, though we cannot yet reach what we long for in joy, and know not how to do what we ought, let us offer our prayers with confidence, since the Lord God, giving greater thought to our desires than to our deeds, looks kindly upon the strength of our good intentions as He receives our service.
The Holy Trinity with the Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist, and donors, by Masaccio (Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, 1401-28); Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 1425. In the lower part, a memento mori with an inscription in Italian over a skeleton, “Io fui già quel che voi siete, e quel ch’io sono, voi ancora sarete - I was once what you are, and what I am, you will yet be.” When Santa Maria Novella was remodeled after the Council of Trent, the paintings which covered the walls of the nave were mostly removed; however, Giorgio Vasari, who was in charge of the project, simply could not bring himself to destroy this work, one of the most important examples of perspective in the Florentine Renaissance. He therefore built a wall over the painting, which was then rediscovered in two phases, the upper part in the 18th century, the lower in 1952.
The Fraternity of St Peter’s Roman church, Santissima Trinità dei Pellergini, has customarily decorated the various altars with reliquaries on the feast of All Saints, with a new arrangement each year. Here are some other photographs of this year's decorations.
The high altar
The altar of St Matthew, in the right transept. The altar facing it in the left transept, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is currently under scaffolding as part of a much-needed restoration project, and could not be used as it was last year.

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