Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Memento Mori

The month of November, the final stretch of the liturgical year, is dedicated especially to prayer for the holy souls in Purgatory, which in turn is a reminder to the living of our own mortality, and the necessity of being prepared for our own death. In reference to this, Fr Gustavo López of St Joachim Church in Madera, California, sent us these photos of the interesting stained glass windows located in the church’s sacristy. (Click to enlarge.)
The Latin words seen here, “Sic transit gloria mundi - So passeth the glory of the world”, formerly figured very prominently in the Papal coronation rite. After the ceremony, the Cardinal Protodeacon approached the new Pope as he was carried through St Peter’s on the sedia gestatoria, and saying these words, would light a wick of flax on the top of a reed; this would burn away very quickly, just as the glory and power of the world pass away very quickly.

These windows were created by Max Ingrand in Paris, France, and have been in the church since 1958 when the second parish church of St Joachim was dedicated. Photographs courtesy of Paul Flores Photography of Madera. (www.paulfloresphoto.com)

Readers who are familiar with the churches of Rome will recognize this motif from the two most prominent churches dedicated to the first Pope. At the Vatican, Bernini’s monument to Pope Alexander VII Chigi (1655-67), who was a personal friend of the artist, shows death itself as a winged skeleton holding an hourglass. The curtain covering his face reminds us, like the stained glass windows above, that death is no respecter of persons.
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Jean-Pol Grandmont.
The Basilica of St Peter in Chains contains three similar monuments, that of Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini (1551-1610), nephew of Pope Clement VIII:
Image from Wikimedia Commons by LPLT
the monument of Mariano Vechiarelli, a nobleman from Rieti who died in 1639:

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko
and the monument of Antonio Galli (1697-1767), Cardinal Priest of the church 1757 until his death, and a member of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Savior of the Lateran, who still run the church to this day.
Image from Wikimedia Commons by Vassil

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