Tag Archives: Jesus

The Eucharist teaches us to care for the weakest of society, Pope Francis says :: Catholic News (The Eucharist is a “school of charity and solidarity,” the Pope said. “Whoever is nourished by the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent to those who do not have bread daily.”)Agency (CNA)

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2015 / 08:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis focused on the recent feast of Corpus Christi, saying the Eucharist is a “school of solidarity and charity,” which inspires us to care for the most vulnerable.

This feast, the Roman Pontiff said June 7 at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, “evokes this message of solidarity, and pushes us to welcome the intimate invitation to conversion and to service, to love and to forgiveness.”

In our daily lives, we encounter Christ, who nourishes us in the Eucharist, in the poor, the suffering, our brothers, and “in every human being, even the smallest and most defenseless.”

The roman Pontiff reflected on the feast’s Gospel, which recounts the institution of the Eucharist during Christ’s Last Supper before his crucifixion.

That night, Christ said that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will “remain in me and I in him,” and will have eternal life.

“With this gesture and with these words, he gives bread a function that is no longer simply physical nourishment, but that which makes present his Person amid the community of believers.”

The Pope added that the Last Supper marks the end of Christ’s life, looking ahead to his death on the Cross, but also to the synthesis of “a life offered for the salvation of humanity.”

For this reason, it is not enough to affirm Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, the Pope said, but recognize it as “the presence of a life given, and take part.”

By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, taking part in his life and entering into communion with him, we in turn are called to promote unity among ourselves, transforming “our life into a gift,” especially to a poor.

The Eucharist is a “school of charity and solidarity,” the Pope said. “Whoever is nourished by the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent to those who do not have bread daily.”

Despite efforts by the international community, this is an increasing problem, and requires proposals to resolve its causes, he said.

The Pope concluded his address by invoking the intercession of Mary, that she may “awaken in everyone the joy in participating in the Mass, especially on Sunday, and the joyful courage to give witness to the charity of Christ.”

After leading the crowds in the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke of his apostolic visit to Sarajevo the previous day.

Once described as the “Jerusalem of the West” owing to the coexistence of various peoples and religious, the recent past has made it into a “symbol of destruction and war,” he said.

Acknowledging the efforts toward reconciliation, Pope Francis encouraged “this journey toward of peaceful coexistence between diverse peoples; a hard, difficult, yet possible journey!”

Pope Francis’ visit on Saturday marked the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the signing of the Dayton Agreement which brought an end to the Bosnian War.

After the breakup of Yugoslavia, some 100,000 combatants and civilians were killed and a million more displaced during the war, which lasted between 1992-1995. The fighting split largely along ethnic lines, among the predominantly Orthodox Serbs, the predominantly Catholic Croats, and the predominantly Muslim Bosniaks.

“May the Lord bless Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.”

Tags: Corpus Christi

via The Eucharist teaches us to care for the weakest of society, Pope Francis says :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

NEWS.VA: Spiritual Reflection


 SPIRITUAL REFLECTION  “The Church moves forward like the advancing dawn”  From the Moral Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great, pope (Lib. 29,2-4: PL 76, 478-480)  Since the daybreak or the dawn is changed gradually from darkness into light, the Church, which comprises the elect, is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn. […]  This reference to the dawn conjures up a still more subtle consideration. The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, the one mixed with the other, as it were.  Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life daybreak and dawn? While we do some things which already belong to the light, we are not free from the remnants of darkness. In Scripture the Prophet says to God: “No living being will be justified in your sight”. Scripture also says: “In many ways all of us give offense”. […]  What is the place of the dawn but the perfect clearness of eternal vision? When the dawn has been brought there, it will retain nothing belonging to the darkness of night. When the Psalmist writes: My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I go and see the face of God?, does he not refer to the effort made by the dawn to reach its place?  Paul was hastening to the place which he knew the dawn would reach when he said he wished to die and to be with Christ. He expressed the same idea when he said: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The Church moves forward like the advancing dawn
From the Moral Reflections on Job by Saint Gregory the Great, pope
(Lib. 29,2-4: PL 76, 478-480)
Since the daybreak or the dawn is changed gradually from darkness into light, the Church, which comprises the elect, is fittingly styled daybreak or dawn. […]
This reference to the dawn conjures up a still more subtle consideration. The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, the one mixed with the other, as it were.
Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life daybreak and dawn? While we do some things which already belong to the light, we are not free from the remnants of darkness.
In Scripture the Prophet says to God: “No living being will be justified in your sight”. Scripture also says: “In many ways all of us give offense”. […]
What is the place of the dawn but the perfect clearness of eternal vision? When the dawn has been brought there, it will retain nothing belonging to the darkness of night. When the Psalmist writes: My soul thirsts for the living God; when shall I go and see the face of God?, does he not refer to the effort made by the dawn to reach its place?
Paul was hastening to the place which he knew the dawn would reach when he said he wished to die and to be with Christ. He expressed the same idea when he said: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (click to access site)

Mass for the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi – 2015.06.04

Mass for the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi – 2015.06.04

Saint of the Day for Thursday, June 4th, 2015: St. Francis Caracciolo

Image of St. Francis Caracciolo

St. Francis Caracciolo

Founder of the Minor Clerks Regular with St. John Augustine Adorno. He was born in 1563, a member of a noble Neapolitan family. Though he had a rare skin disease, much like leprosy, Francis became a … continue reading

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today’s holiday/commemoration/observance: Uganda Martyrs Day

Uganda Martyrs Day

On June 3, 1886, the country of Uganda‘s first Christian converts were executed in the town of Namugongo. Then known as Buganda, the country had begun attracting the attention of Catholic and Anglican missionaries. Sons of many of the region’s leading families had converted to Christianity. The king of Buganda, Mwanga II, saw this conversion as treachery against his authority. When the converts refused to renounce their faith, they were burned alive. To commemorate the event, Christian pilgrims from all over Uganda journey to Namugongo and the town’s Anglican church. More… Discuss

Music for the soul: J. S. Bach: Cantata Nº 208, ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’, BWV 208

J. S. Bach: Cantata Nº 208, ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’, BWV 208

this pressed: Could Mother Teresa be canonized during the Holy Year for Mercy? :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


By Elise Harris


Vatican City, May 19, 2015 / 10:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).-

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said that Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta could be canonized during the upcoming Jubilee for Mercy, although he clarified that no concrete plans have been made.

Fr. Lombardi told CNA May 19 that the possible canonization of Mother Teresa during the Holy Year is “a working hypothesis.”

“There is no official date but you can say that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is studying the cause.”

When asked if there was a second miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession, the spokesman said, “The cause is in the process.”

An Italian cardinal heading one of the Vatican dicasteries who preferred to remain anonymous told CNA May 19 that the canonization was brought up during a Monday meeting between Pope Francis and the heads of various dicasteries in the Roman Curia.

According to the cardinal, the Vatican’s prefect of the Congregation of the Causes for Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, suggested Sept. 4, 2016 – which is being observed as a jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy – to the others as a possible canonization date, since it is close to Sept. 5, the nun’s feast day

via Could Mother Teresa be canonized during the Holy Year for Mercy? :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).


Pope Francis: Fear and joylessness are signs of bad spiritual health :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

By Ann Schneible

PHOTO:  Pope Francis at the papal ordination of priests in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 26, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, May 15, 2015 / 11:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily on Friday Pope Francis said that Christian communities become “sick” when they live in fear and fail to be joyful – even when times are difficult.

“When the Church is fearful and when the Church does not receive the joy of the Holy Spirit, the Church is sick, the communities are sick, the faithful are sick,” the Pope said during Mass at the Santa Marta residence May 15.

He added that the Christian community grows “sick with worldliness” when “it does not have the joy of Christ.”

“A Christian without joy is not Christian. A Christian who continually lives in sadness is not Christian. And a Christian who, in the moment of trial, of illness, of so many difficulties, loses peace – something is lacking in him.”

These two words – “fear” and “joy” – and what each means for the Christian community, were at the center of the Holy Father’s homily.

Speaking first on fear, Pope Francis explained: “A fearful Christian is a person who has not understood the message of Jesus.”

This kind of fear provokes a self-centered selfishness which leads to a sort of paralysis. It “harms us. It weakens us, it diminishes us. It even paralyzes us,” the Pope said.

Recalling how Jesus told Saint Paul to speak and not be afraid, he said: Fear is not a Christian attitude.”

Rather, it is an attitude of a “caged animal” who lacks the freedom to look forward, create, and do good, being prevented by a sense of danger.

“This fear is a vice,” he added.

Pope Francis said this fear and lack of courage jeopardizes the health of those communities which to forbid everything in an effort to always be safe.

“It seems they have written on the gateway: ‘Forbidden,’” he said. “And you enter into this community and the air is stale, because it is a sick community.”

MORE: via Pope Francis: Fear and joylessness are signs of bad spiritual health :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

historic Musical Bits: Liszt: Années de pèlerinage, S.163 – 4. Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este – Claudio Arrau

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage, S.163 – 4. Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este – Claudio Arrau

Published on Jan 12, 2013

Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este (The Fountains of the Villa d’Este) – Over the music, Liszt placed the inscription, “”Sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam” (“But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life,” from the Gospel of John).


Pope Francis’ Daily Homilies: Spiritual Reflection: “The days between the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord” From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope (Sermo 1 de Ascensione, 2-4: PL 54, 395-396)

The Ascension of Our Lord

The Ascension of Our Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“The days between the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord”  From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope (Sermo 1 de Ascensione, 2-4: PL 54, 395-396)  Beloved, the days which passed between the Lord’s resurrection and his ascension were by no means uneventful; during them great sacramental mysteries were confirmed, great truths revealed. In those days the fear of death with all its horrors was taken away, and the immortality of both body and soul affirmed. […]  The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.  Indeed that blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man’s nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Nor would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal Father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the person of the Son.

“The days between the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord
From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
(Sermo 1 de Ascensione, 2-4: PL 54, 395-396)
Beloved, the days which passed between the Lord’s resurrection and his ascension were by no means uneventful; during them great sacramental mysteries were confirmed, great truths revealed. In those days the fear of death with all its horrors was taken away, and the immortality of both body and soul affirmed. […]
The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.
Indeed that blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man’s nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Nor would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal Father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the person of the Son.

When was the last time you said ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry?’ Pope asks :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)



By Elise Harris

By Elise Harris

Vatican City, May 13, 2015 / 09:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his general audience Pope Francis focused on the concrete challenges families face in daily life, and said that simply remembering to be grateful and to apologize can go a long way in avoiding conflict.

“Dear brothers and sisters, today’s catechesis is the opening of the door to a series of reflections on family life, real life, daily life,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square May 13.

“Above this door are written three words that we have already used other times: May I, thank you, and I’m sorry. They are words linked to good manners, (and) in their genuine sense of respect and desire for good, (they are) far away from any hypocrisy and duplicity,” he said.

Francis’ address was a continuation of his ongoing catechesis on the family, which he began at the end of last year as part of the lead-up to the World Day of Families in September, as well as October’s Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Although the words ’May I,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ can be hard to say or put into practice, their absence “can cause cracks in the foundation of the family, which can lead to its collapse,” the Pope said.

However, if families make a habit of including the phrases in their daily lives as a sign of love for one another rather than just a formal expression of good manners, they can strengthen a happy family life, he continued.

The word ‘May I’ is a reminder that we should be “delicate, respectful and patient with others,” he said. Even if we feel like we have the right to something, “when we speak to our spouse or family member with kindness we create space for a true spirit of marital and familial common life.”

Kindness helps to renew trust and respect, and reveals the love we have for others, the Pope noted, saying that we should always imitate Jesus, who stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, waiting for us to open it to him.

He then turned to the second word, noting that to say ‘thank you’ can seem like a contradiction in a distrustful society, which tends to view this attitude as weakness.

Despite this perception, it is through an “education in gratitude” that that social justice and the dignity of persons are upheld, he said.

Gratitude Francis continued, “is a virtue that for believers is born from the same heart of their faith… (it) is also the language of God, to whom above all we must express our gratitude.”

via When was the last time you said ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry?’ Pope asks :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Cabbage leaf mustard – Recipes Wiki


Mustard greens

Wikipedia Article About Mustard greens on Wikipedia

The mustards are several plant species in the genus Brassica whose proverbially tiny mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by   grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into a condiment also known as mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil, and the edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.

Mild white mustard (Brassica hirta) grows wild in North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe and has spread farther by long cultivation; brown or Indian mustard (B. juncea), originally from the foothills of the Himalaya, is grown commercially in the UK, Canada and the US; black mustard (B. nigra) in Argentina, Chile, the US and some European countries. Canada grows 90% of all the mustard seed for the international market.

In addition to the mustards, the genus Brassica also includes cabbages, cauliflower, rapeseed and turnips.

There has been recent research into varieties of mustards that have a high oil content for use in the production of biodiesel, a renewable liquid fuel similar to diesel fuel. The biodiesel made from mustard oil has good cold flow properties and cetane ratings. The leftover meal after pressing out the oil has also been found to be an effective pesticide.

An interesting genetic relationship between many species of mustard have been observed, and is described as the Triangle of U.

via Cabbage leaf mustard – Recipes Wiki.

Brassica juncea
Brassica juncea - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-168.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. juncea
Binomial name
Brassica juncea
(L.) Vassiliĭ Matveievitch Czernajew (1796 – 1871)


Pope Francis: Spare no effort in defending life, family :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


General audience with Pope Francis on March 18, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez / CNA.

Vatican City, May 12, 2015 / 03:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his meeting on Saturday with the bishops from Mozambique, a southeast African nation, Pope Francis urged support for public policies that promote the family and protect human life.

“Spare no efforts in supporting the family and in the defense of life from conception to natural death,” he said May 9 in the Vatican. “In this sense, remember the options appropriate to one of Christ‘s disciples and the beauty of being a mother, accompanied by the support of the family and the local community.”

“The family must always be defended as the main source of fraternity, respect for others and the primary path of peace.”

The Mozambican bishops – whose country borders Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa, and the Indian Ocean – were in Rome for their five-yearly ad limina visit, a meeting with the Pope.

The Bishop of Rome cautioned his brother bishops against a worldly sense of success, saying, “the fecundity of our mission … is not measured by the number of collaborators, nor by the prestige of the institution, nor even by the quantity of available resources.”

“What counts is being permeated with Christ’s love, allowing oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit, and grafting one’s own existence onto the tree of life, which is the Cross of the Lord,” he said, adding that “from St. Paul, the insuperable model of the Christian missionary, we know that this means trying to conform to Jesus in his death so as to participate in his resurrection … the paschal mystery is the beating heart of the mission of the Church.”

“If you abide in this mystery, you will be protected both from a worldly and triumphalist vision of the mission, and the disappointment that may arise when faced with trials and failures.”

Pope Francis encouraged the bishops to be particularly solicitous for their priests as well as for the religious communities in their dioceses, and to live among their faithful in the “’existential peripheries’ where there is suffering, loneliness, and human degradation.”

Reflecting on the nature and role of a bishop, he said: “you are spouses of your diocesan community, profoundly tied to it.”

The Pope stated that “the pastors and the faithful of Mozambique need to further develop a culture of encounter,” saying Christ’s only request is “that you go out in search of the neediest.” He mentioned those who suffer from natural disasters, as well as displaced persons and refugees.

“These people need us to share in their suffering, their worries, their problems,” he told the bishops. “They need us to look upon them with love and you must reach out to them, as did Jesus.”

Turning to the challenges facing Mozambique, Pope Francis encouraged investment in education, so as to oppose inequality and social division. He said education “teaches the young to think critically, and offers a path towards maturity in values. In this sense, it is appropriate to raise awareness among leaders in society and to revive pastoral ministry in universities and schools, combining the task of education with the proclamation of the Gospel.”

“The needs are so great that they cannot be satisfied simply through individual initiatives or by a union of individuals educated in individualism. Community networks are needed to respond to social problems.”

He concluded by encouraging the bishops in going to the peripheries, saying, “When we go out to take the Gospel with true apostolic spirit, [Jesus] walks with us. He precedes us, and for us this is fundamental: God always goes before us.”

Tags: Pope Francis, Family, Pro-life, Abortion

via Pope Francis: Spare no effort in defending life, family :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Saint of the Day for Tuesday, May 12th, 2015: Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

Pope Francis sends a hug to moms worldwide for Mother’s Day :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


Pope Francis greets pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square, Jan. 8, 2014. Credit: Kyle Burkhart/CNA.

Vatican City, May 10, 2015 / 09:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis extended a special greeting to all those around the world who are celebrating Mother’s Day, after offering advice on loving to the point of laying down one’s life.

“We remember all mothers with gratitude and affection,” the Pope said to the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square under the hot sun for the recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer May 10.

Speaking to the mothers after granting the apostolic blessing to those present, he noted that the applause from the crowd embraced all mothers: “those who live with us physically, but also those who live with us spiritually.”

The Pope also greeted those who were beginning to gather around the Vatican to take part in the March for Life. “It is important to collaborate together in order to defend and promote life,” he said.

In his address before the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis recounted Christ‘s words during the Last Supper: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Christ says he loves us even though we have not merited this love, the Pope said. “In this way, Jesus shows us the path for following him, the path of love.”

Pope Francis explained that Christ’s command to love and to lay down one’s life for friends is new, insofar as it was he who first fulfilled it.

“The law of love is written once and for all in the heart of man” he said, “written with the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

“And with this same Spirit, which Jesus gives us, we too can walk along this path!”

Pope Francis’ reflection comes two weeks before Pentecost, on which the Church celebrates the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles 50 days after Christ’s resurrection.

The path which leads us out of ourselves toward others is concrete, the Pope said.

“Jesus showed us that love for God puts into effect the love for others,” he added, explaining that these two loves go together.

There are many examples of this love throughout the Gospels: “adults and children, educated and ignorant, rich and poor, righteous and sinners, were welcomed in the heart of Christ.”

Pope Francis stressed this call to love one another, even when we don’t understand each other, or when we don’t get along: “It is here that one sees Christian love.”

This love is greater than differences of opinion or disposition, the Roman Pontiff said.

A love which has been “freed from selfishness,” it gives joy to our hearts.

Pope Francis spoke of the small gestures of closeness shown every day: given to an elderly person, a child, one who is sick, a person alone and in difficulty, without home or job, an immigrant, a refugee.

“The love which Christ has taught us is made manifest in these gestures,” he said.

Tags: Regina Caeli

via Pope Francis sends a hug to moms worldwide for Mother’s Day :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 7th, 2015: St. Rose Venerini

Image of St. Rose Venerini

St. Rose Venerini

Blessed Rose was born at Viterbo in 1656, the daughter of Godfrey Venerini, a physician. Upon the death of a young man who had been paying court to her, she entered a convent, but after a few months … continue reading

Rose of Viterbo

Rose of Viterbo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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† Pray the Rosary † Wednesday and Sunday † The Glorious Mysteries † Powerful Prayers for Miracles †

†Pray the Rosary – Wednesday and Sunday – The Glorious Mysteries – Powerful Prayers for Miracles†

Franz Liszt – Via Crucis, S53/R534

Franz Liszt – Via Crucis, S53/R534

today’s holiday: Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck (2015)

Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck (2015)

This feast is a commemoration in Malta of the shipwreck of St. Paul on the island in 60 CE, an event described in the New Testament. Paul was a prisoner on a ship, and when storms drove the ship aground, Paul was welcomed by the “barbarous people” (meaning they were not Greco-Romans). According to legend, he got their attention when a snake bit him on the hand but did him no harm, and he then healed people of diseases. Paul is the patron saint of Malta and snakebite victims. The day is a public holiday observed with family gatherings and religious ceremonies and processions. More… Discuss

Monday: Archive of Did you know?

Drawing of Rome during the fourteenth century.

Drawing of Rome during the fourteenth century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Archive of Did you know?


Catherine of Siena escorted pope Gregory XI at...

Catherine of Siena escorted pope Gregory XI at Rome on 17th January 1377. Fresco by Giorgio Vasari (30.07.1511-27.06.1574). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Avignon, Palais des Papes, France

Avignon, Palais des Papes, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christianity (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Danish painter, d. 1890.

Christianity (from the Ancient Greek word Χριστός, Christos, a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ, Māšîăḥ, meaning “the anointed one”,[1] together with the Latin suffixes -ian and -itas) is an Abrahamic, monotheistic[2] religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world’s largest religion,[3][4] with about 2.4 billion adherents, known as Christians.[5][6][7][8] Christians believe that Jesus has a “unique significance” in the world.[9] Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the saviour of humanity whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequently, Christians refer to Jesus as Christ or the Messiah.

The foundations of Christian theology are expressed in ecumenical creeds. These professions of faith state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father. Most Christian denominations teach that Jesus will return to judge everybody, living and dead, and to grant eternal life to his followers. He is considered the model of a virtuous life. His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are often referred to as “the gospel“, meaning “good news” (a loan translation of the Greek: εὐαγγέλιον euangélion). The term gospel also refers to written accounts of Jesus’s life and teaching, four of which – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – are considered canonical and included in Christian Bibles.

Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the mid-1st century.[10][11] Originating in the Levant region of the Middle East, it quickly spread to Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Egypt. It grew in size and influence over a few centuries, and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire, replacing other forms of religion practiced under Roman rule.[12] During the Middle Ages, most of the remainder of Europe was Christianized, and adherents were gained in the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, and parts of India.[13][14] Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization.[15][16][17] Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization.[18][19][20][21][22]

Worldwide, the three largest groups of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the various denominations of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox patriarchates split from one another in the schism of the 11th century, and Protestantism came into existence during the Reformation of the 16th century, splitting from the Roman Catholic Church.[23]


Christians share a certain set of beliefs that they hold as essential to their faith, though there are many important differences of interpretation and opinion of the Bible on which Christianity is based.[24]


Main article: Creeds

Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds (from Latin credo, meaning “I believe”). They began as baptismal formulae and were later expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.

Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith, even while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. The Baptists have been non-creedal “in that they have not sought to establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one another.”[25]:p.111 Also rejecting creeds are groups with roots in the Restoration Movement, such as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada and the Churches of Christ.[26][27]:14–15[28]:123

 An Eastern Christian Icon depicting Emperor Constantine and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) as holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381.

The Apostles’ Creed remains the most popular statement of the articles of Christian faith which are generally acceptable to most Christian denominations that are creedal. It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Western Rite Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 2nd and 9th centuries. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period. The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome.[29]

Its main points include:

The Nicene Creed, largely a response to Arianism, was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 respectively[30][31] and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.[32]

The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451,[33] though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches,[34] taught Christ “to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably”: one divine and one human, and that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are nevertheless also perfectly united into one person.[35]

The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.”[36]

Most Christians (Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Protestants alike) accept the use of creeds, and subscribe to at least one of the creeds mentioned above.[37]

Ten Commandments

Main article: Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, and adultery. Different groups follow slightly different traditions for interpreting and numbering them. According to the synoptic gospels, Christ generalised the law into two underlying principles; The first is “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” While the second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[Matthew 22:34–40][Mark 12:28–33]

These are quotes from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament comments on these verses saying: “These comprehend the substance of what Moses in the law, and what the prophets have spoken. What they have said has been to endeavour to win men to the love of God and each other. Love to God and man comprehends the whole [of] religion; and to produce this has been the design of Moses, the prophets, the Saviour, and the apostles.”[38]

Jesus Christ

The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as savior of humanity, and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfillment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The Christian concept of the Messiah differs significantly from the contemporary Jewish concept. The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.[39]

While there have been many theological disputes over the nature of Jesus over the earliest centuries of Christian history, Christians generally believe that Jesus is God incarnate and “true God and true man” (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become fully human, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, but did not sin. As fully God, he rose to life again. According to the Bible, “God raised him from the dead”,[40] he ascended to heaven, is “seated at the right hand of the Father”[41] and will ultimately return[Acts 1:9–11] to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy such as the Resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and final establishment of the Kingdom of God.

According to the canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary. Little of Jesus’ childhood is recorded in the canonical Gospels, however infancy Gospels were popular in antiquity. In comparison, his adulthood, especially the week before his death, is well documented in the Gospels contained within the New Testament, because that part of his life was believed to be most important. The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry include: his baptism, miracles, preaching, teaching, and deeds.

Death and resurrection

Crucifixion, representing the death of Jesus on the Cross, painting by D. Velázquez, 17th century

Resurrection of Christ by Noel Coypel, 1700, using a hovering depiction of Jesus.

Christians consider the resurrection of Jesus to be the cornerstone of their faith (see 1 Corinthians 15) and the most important event in history.[42] Among Christian beliefs, the death and resurrection of Jesus are two core events on which much of Christian doctrine and theology is based.[43][44] According to the New Testament Jesus was crucified, died a physical death, was buried within a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later.[Jn. 19:30–31] [Mk. 16:1] [16:6]

The New Testament mentions several resurrection appearances of Jesus on different occasions to his twelve apostles and disciples, including “more than five hundred brethren at once”,[1Cor 15:6] before Jesus’ Ascension to heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection are commemorated by Christians in all worship services, with special emphasis during Holy Week which includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The death and resurrection of Jesus are usually considered the most important events in Christian theology, partly because they demonstrate that Jesus has power over life and death and therefore has the authority and power to give people eternal life.[45]

Christian churches accept and teach the New Testament account of the resurrection of Jesus with very few exceptions.[46] Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus’ followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the historical Jesus and the proclamation of the early church.[47] Some liberal Christians do not accept a literal bodily resurrection,[48][49] seeing the story as richly symbolic and spiritually nourishing myth. Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious debates and interfaith dialogues.[50] Paul the Apostle, an early Christian convert and missionary, wrote, “If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless.”[1Cor 15:14] [51]


Paul the Apostle, like Jews and Roman pagans of his time, believed that sacrifice can bring about new kinship ties, purity, and eternal life.[52] For Paul the necessary sacrifice was the death of Jesus: Gentiles who are “Christ’s” are, like Israel, descendants of Abraham and “heirs according to the promise”.[Gal. 3:29] [53] The God who raised Jesus from the dead would also give new life to the “mortal bodies” of Gentile Christians, who had become with Israel the “children of God” and were therefore no longer “in the flesh”.[Rom. 8:9,11,16] [52]

Modern Christian churches tend to be much more concerned with how humanity can be saved from a universal condition of sin and death than the question of how both Jews and Gentiles can be in God’s family. According to both Catholic and Protestant doctrine, salvation comes by Jesus’ substitutionary death and resurrection. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation does not occur without faithfulness on the part of Christians; converts must live in accordance with principles of love and ordinarily must be baptized.[54][55] Martin Luther taught that baptism was necessary for salvation, but modern Lutherans and other Protestants tend to teach that salvation is a gift that comes to an individual by God’s grace, sometimes defined as “unmerited favor”, even apart from baptism.

Christians differ in their views on the extent to which individuals’ salvation is pre-ordained by God. Reformed theology places distinctive emphasis on grace by teaching that individuals are completely incapable of self-redemption, but that sanctifying grace is irresistible.[56] In contrast Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Arminian Protestants believe that the exercise of free will is necessary to have faith in Jesus.[57]


Main article: Trinity

 The Trinity is the belief that God is one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit

Trinity refers to the teaching that the one God[2] comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing persons; the Father, the Son (incarnate in Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Together, these three persons are sometimes called the Godhead,[58][59][60] although there is no single term in use in Scripture to denote the unified Godhead.[61] In the words of the Athanasian Creed, an early statement of Christian belief, “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God”.[62] They are distinct from another: the Father has no source, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father. Though distinct, the three persons cannot be divided from one another in being or in operation.[63]

The Trinity is an essential doctrine of mainstream Christianity. “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” represents both the immanence and transcendence of God. God is believed to be infinite and God’s presence may be perceived through the actions of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.[64]

According to this doctrine, God is not divided in the sense that each person has a third of the whole; rather, each person is considered to be fully God (see Perichoresis). The distinction lies in their relations, the Father being unbegotten; the Son being begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and (in Western Christian theology) from the Son. Regardless of this apparent difference, the three ‘persons’ are each eternal and omnipotent.

The word trias, from which trinity is derived, is first seen in the works of Theophilus of Antioch. He wrote of “the Trinity of God (the Father), His Word (the Son) and His Wisdom (Holy Spirit)”.[65] The term may have been in use before this time. Afterwards it appears in Tertullian.[66][67] In the following century the word was in general use. It is found in many passages of Origen.[68]


Main article: Trinitarianism

Trinitarianism denotes those Christians who believe in the concept of the Trinity. Almost all Christian denominations and Churches hold Trinitarian beliefs. Although the words “Trinity” and “Triune” do not appear in the Bible, theologians beginning in the 3rd century developed the term and concept to facilitate comprehension of the New Testament teachings of God as Father, God as Jesus the Son, and God as the Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply three gods, nor that each member of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God; Trinity is defined as one God in three Persons.[69]


Main article: Nontrinitarianism

Nontrinitarianism refers to theology that rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Various nontrinitarian views, such as adoptionism or modalism, existed in early Christianity, leading to the disputes about Christology.[70] Nontrinitarianism later appeared again in the Gnosticism of the Cathars in the 11th through 13th centuries, and by groups with Unitarian theology in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,[71] and in the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, and in some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century.


Christianity, like other religions, has adherents whose beliefs and biblical interpretations vary. Christianity regards the biblical canon, the Old Testament and the New Testament, as the inspired word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that what they produced was what God wished to communicate. The Greek word referring to inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 is Theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed”.[72]

Some believe that divine inspiration makes our present Bibles inerrant. Others claim inerrancy for the Bible in its original manuscripts, although none of those are extant. Still others maintain that only a particular translation is inerrant, such as the King James Version.[73][74][75] Another view closely related is Biblical infallibility or limited inerrancy, which affirms that the Bible is free of error as a guide to salvation, but may include errors on matters such as history, geography or science.

 The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible

The books of the Bible accepted among the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches vary somewhat, with Jews accepting only the Hebrew Bible as canonical; there is however substantial overlap. These variations are a reflection of the range of traditions, and of the councils that have convened on the subject. Every version of the Old Testament always includes the books of the Tanakh, the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Catholic and Orthodox canons, in addition to the Tanakh, also include the Deuterocanonical Books as part of the Old Testament. These books appear in the Septuagint, but are regarded by Protestants to be apocryphal. However, they are considered to be important historical documents which help to inform the understanding of words, grammar and syntax used in the historical period of their conception. Some versions of the Bible include a separate Apocrypha section between the Old Testament and the New Testament.[76] The New Testament, originally written in Koine Greek, contains 27 books which are agreed upon by all churches.

Modern scholarship has raised many issues with the Bible. While the Authorized King James Version is held to by many because of its striking English prose, in fact it was translated from the Erasmus Greek Bible which in turn “was based on a single 12th Century manuscript that is one of the worst manuscripts we have available to us”.[77] Much scholarship in the past several hundred years has gone into comparing different manuscripts in order to reconstruct the original text. Another issue is that several books are considered to be forgeries. The injunction that women “be silent and submissive” in 1 Timothy 12[78] is thought by many to be a forgery by a follower of Paul, a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 14,[79] which is thought to be by Paul, appears in different places in different manuscripts and is thought to originally be a margin note by a copyist.[77] Other verses in 1 Corinthians, such as 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 where women are instructed to wear a covering over their hair “when they pray or prophesies”,[80] contradict this verse.

A final issue with the Bible is the way in which books were selected for inclusion in the New Testament. Other Gospels have now been recovered, such as those found near Nag Hammadi in 1945, and while some of these texts are quite different from what Christians have been used to, it should be understood that some of this newly recovered Gospel material is quite possibly contemporaneous with, or even earlier than, the New Testament Gospels. The core of the Gospel of Thomas, in particular, may date from as early as 50 AD, and if so would provide an insight into the earliest gospel texts that underlie the canonical Gospels, texts that are mentioned in Luke 1:1–2. The Gospel of Thomas contains much that is familiar from the canonical Gospels – verse 113, for example (“The Father’s Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, but people do not see it”),[81] is reminiscent of Luke 17:20–21[82][83] – and the Gospel of John, with a terminology and approach that is suggestive of what was later termed Gnosticism, has recently been seen as a possible response to the Gospel of Thomas, a text that is commonly labelled proto-Gnostic. Scholarship, then, is currently exploring the relationship in the Early Church between mystical speculation and experience on the one hand and the search for church order on the other, by analyzing new-found texts, by subjecting canonical texts to further scrutiny, and by an examination of the passage of New Testament texts to canonical status.

Catholic and Orthodox interpretations

 St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, the largest church in the world and a symbol of the Catholic Church.

In antiquity, two schools of exegesis developed in Alexandria and Antioch. Alexandrine interpretation, exemplified by Origen, tended to read Scripture allegorically, while Antiochene interpretation adhered to the literal sense, holding that other meanings (called theoria) could only be accepted if based on the literal meaning.[84]

Catholic theology distinguishes two senses of scripture: the literal and the spiritual.[85]

The literal sense of understanding scripture is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture. The spiritual sense is further subdivided into:

Regarding exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation, Catholic theology holds:

  • the injunction that all other senses of sacred scripture are based on the literal[86][87]
  • that the historicity of the Gospels must be absolutely and constantly held[88]
  • that scripture must be read within the “living Tradition of the whole Church”[89] and
  • that “the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome“.[90]

Saint of the Day for Sunday, February 8th, 2015 : St. Jerome Emiliani

Image of St. Jerome Emiliani

St. Jerome Emiliani

Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty dungeon. Only a short time before he had been a military commander for Venice in charge of a fortress. He didn’t care much about God because he didn’t … continue reading

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Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 : St. Joan of Valois

Saint of the Day for Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015: St. Blaise

Saint of the Day for Monday, January 26th, 2015: St. Timothy

Image of St. Timothy

St. Timothy

Born at Lystra, Lycaenia, Timothy was the son of a Greek father and Eunice, a converted Jewess. He joined St. Paul when Paul preached at Lystra replacing Barnabas, and became Paul’s close friend and … continue reading

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today’s birthday: Montesquieu (1689)

Montesquieu (1689)

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, was a French social and political philosopher whose ideas profoundly influenced European and American political thought, particularly that of America’s founding fathers. He spent 15 years working on his masterpiece, De l’Esprit des lois—On the Spirit of the Laws—an immense comparative analysis of various forms of government comprising more than 600 chapters. What concept did he famously put forth in this work? More… Discuss

Leonard Cohen Live – A Thousand Kisses Deep: “…a light that doesn’t need to live,and doesn’t need to die…”

Leonard Cohen Live – A Thousand Kisses Deep

today’s birthday: Albert Schweitzer (1875) – “The reverence for life man”

Albert Schweitzer (1875)

Schweitzer was an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. Determined to become a medical missionary, he established a hospital in Gabon, Africa, in 1913 and later expanded it to include a leper colony. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his medical and humanitarian work and for his “reverence for life” concept of universal ethics, which emphasizes respect for the lives of all beings. An organist to boot, he interpreted the music of what composer? More… Discuss

Saint of the Day for Monday, January 12th, 2015: St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

this day in the yesteryear: Joan of Arc Goes on Trial (1431)

Joan of Arc Goes on Trial (1431)

Joan of Arc was a French military leader and heroine who was canonized a saint in 1920, nearly 500 years after she was burned at the stake. Claiming to be inspired by religious visions, she organized the French resistance that forced the English to end their siege of Orléans in 1429 and led an army to Rheims, where she had the dauphin, Charles VII, crowned king. Captured and sold to the English by the Burgundians, she was later tried for heresy and executed. What was the “nullification trial”? More… Discuss

*** More  HERE

Saint of the Day for Thursday, January 8th, 2015: St. Thorfinn

Saint of the Day for Thursday, January 1st, 2015: Mary the Blessed Virgin

.@eharris_it Francis is NOT pope he has violated God’s law & Christ’s teachings & seeks to corrupt the #Catholic faith— Pray For Life (@Pray_4_Life)

History of Art: Gemma Augustea: Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna – the story about this marvelous low-relief cameo

Gemma Augustea (detail) Kunsthistoriches Museum Vienna

Gemma Augustea (detail) Kunsthistoriches Museum Vienna (Click to enlarge)

The Gemma Augustea (Latin, Gem of Augustus) is a low-relief cameo engraved gem cut from a double-layered Arabian onyx stone. It is commonly agreed that the gem cutter who created the Gemma Augustea was either Dioscurides or one of his disciples, in the second or third decade of the 1st century AD.

Creation and characteristics

The Gemma Augustea is a low-relief cameo engraved gem cut from a double-layered Arabian onyx stone.[1] One layer is white, while the other is bluish-brown. The painstaking method by which the stone was cut allowed minute detail with sharp contrast between the images and background, also allowing for a great deal of shadow play. The size of the gem also made for easier manipulation and a grander scene. It stands 7½ inches tall with a width of 9 inches and an average thickness of ½ inch.

It is commonly agreed that the gem cutter who created Gemma Augustea was either Dioscurides or one of his disciples. Dioscurides was Caesar Augustus’ favorite gem cutter, and his work and copies of it are seen from all over the ancient Roman world. The gem is “set” as though in the period c. AD 10–20, although some scholars believe it to have been created decades later because of their interpretation of the scene.

If Dioscurides, or cutters following his example, made it, the gemma was probably made in the court of Caesar Augustus. At some time in antiquity it moved to Byzantium, perhaps after Constantine I had officially moved the capital of the empire there. Augustus, though fully accepting and encouraging cult worship of the emperor outside Rome and Italy, especially in more distant provinces with traditions of deified rulers, did not allow himself to be worshiped as a god inside Rome. If this gem was made during his lifetime (he died in AD 14), it would perhaps have been made as a gift to a respected family in a Roman province or client kingdom. Alternatively, if the gem was made after Augustus’ death, the identity of one or more of the portraits may be different from the usual identification. Another viewpoint is that the gem does portray Augustus as a god in his lifetime, but was cut specifically for a close friend or relative in the inner court circle. Similar issues arise with other Imperial cameos such as the Blacas Cameo in the British Museum.

The whereabouts of the gemma is undocumented, though it still remained relatively intact and was probably always above ground, until 1246 when it is recorded in the treasury of the Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse. In 1533, Francis I of France appropriated it and moved it to Paris, where it disappears from records around 1590. Not long thereafter it was sold for 12,000 ducats to Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor. During the 17th century, it was set in German gold. This setting shows that the gem must have been damaged, the upper left side being broken with at least one other figure missing, probably before Rudolph II bought it, but definitely before 1700. The gem is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.[2]

Interpretations of the figures and scenes


Gemma Augustea, with reference numbers.

Upper tier

The throned figure, #1 in the numbered illustration, is usually taken to be Augustus, although in some interpretations, it could represent a later Roman ruler. Figure #3 is the most readily identifiable, having characteristics held by no other. The woman is Oikoumene – the personification of the inhabited world. This inhabited or civilized world is either that of the early Roman Empire, or more likely the Mediterranean world conquered by Alexander the Great.[3] She wears upon her head a mural crown and veil. She is crowning figure #1 with the corona civica of oak leaves – used to commend someone for saving the life of a Roman citizen. In this grand scale depiction, however, it is given to figure #1 because he saved a multitude of Roman citizens.

Figure #5 and #6 seem to be closely related. Figure #5 is Oceanus or Neptune whose significance is often seen as one balancing the scene across from #4 and #7, and also an important onlooker, as he represents the realm of water. Below him is a reclined personification of either Gaia or Italia Turrita. The scholars who see Gaia link her with the cornucopia and the children surrounding her, who may represent seasons. It might be odd that Gaia holds the horn of plenty when it seems as if the horn is not presently producing anything. This supports an argument that she is not Gaia, but Italia, for historically there was famine at the scene’s event. Also, she wears a bulla, a locket of some sort, around her neck, which, again, would seem odd for Gaia to wear. Either way, the children represent seasons, probably summer and fall, as one of them carries ears of corn.

Figure #10 is the eagle of Jupiter. The eagle could be showing that figure #1 is seated in the role of Jupiter. Seated next to figure #1 is Roma. The helmeted goddess holds a spear in her right arm while her left hand lightly touches the hilt of her sword, probably showing that Rome was always prepared for war. Besides showing her feet resting upon the armor of the conquered, Roma seems to look admiringly towards figure #1. Though there might be a dispute as to who #1 is, it is often said that the image of Roma strongly resembles Livia, Augustus’ long-lived wife. Not only was she his wife, but from a previous marriage, the mother of Tiberius. The reason for the cutting of this gem is also called into question when it is noted that Roma was not worshiped inside Rome till around the rule of Hadrian. Thus the gem might have been custom cut for a friend in the provinces.

Figure #4 is Victoria driving the chariot that holds the descending figure #7. She is obviously the deliverer of the victorious but not necessarily there for celebration, as it seems she might be impatiently urging figure #7 on to his next campaign. In associating Victoria with the chariot, it is necessary to analyze some historical importance relating to the chariot and the horses around it. The two foreshortened horses in front of the chariot are part of the chariot team, whereas the single horse to the side cannot be, and might belong to figure #8. Historically, a victory chariot was driven by four horses forming a quadriga, not the mere two represented on the gemma, a bigae. This might show that figure #7 is not a triumphator.

Lower tier: erection of tropaion


The lower register


Key to lower register


A fully erected tropaion with shackled and adorsed seated male and female Sarmatian captives (the right-hand female with head resting on hand, possibly a representation of the defeated “Sarmatia”) tied to base. Dupondius from reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-180

The lower scene, in which the figures are less readily identifiable, depicts the erection of a tropaion. In some interpretations of the scene, all the lower figures are by design anonymous. Other interpretations attribute definite real or mythological persons to the figures. At left, the seated male and female figures (combined in #11) are either Celts or Germans, as is apparent from their clothing and hair styles, including the man’s beard, and represent prisoners of war, symbolizing the Roman victory. The man is bound with his hands behind his back, and both are apparently about to be tied to the base of the as yet half-erected tropaion (figure #19_, a trophy of war displayed upon winning a battle, usually fixed into the ground at the position of the “turning-point” of the battle in favour of the victors. The trophy consists of a wooden cross, designed to support human clothing. A helmet is placed on top, and the breastplate and weaponry of the enemy is placed upon it. In the scene, four young men are raising the trophy into a vertical position. Figure #18 is the least identifiable, but his helmet has led some to believe that he may be a Macedonian soldier of King Rhoemetalces[disambiguation needed], who helped Tiberius in Pannonia.
Figure #15 is often identified as a personification of the god Mars with his armor and flowing cape. Although figures #16 and #17 seem less important, they look very much alike and may represent the constellation Gemini. Gemini is the more difficult constellation to pick out, and it might represent the hidden identity of figure #8. Two others, however, are more obvious. Figure #20 is a shield with a large scorpion emblazoned upon it. Tiberius was born in November, and thus might be represented with such an item. Figure #9 shows Augustus’ favorite sign, the Capricorn. Although Augustus might have been conceived during December, he claimed the Capricorn as his constellation. The sun or moon, which were necessary to show the full power of a constellation, is seen behind the sign. Mars is represented by figure (#15), andthus at least three signs of the Zodiac are evident.

Figure #13 is probably Diana, identified with the moon, although some commentators believe her to be a mere auxiliary troop with #14. Diana holds spears in her left hand and her right hand seems to rest on the head of the man in figure #12, but not gripping his hair as supposed by many. Another identifying feature of Diana is her bountiful hair, bound up for the hunt, and her hunting clothes. Figure #14 might be an auxiliary, but more likely he personifies Mercurius (Mercury/Hermes), identified by his rimmed hat. Mercurius seems to be dragging the female in figure #12 by her hair towards the tropaion. The scene is clearly complex. Many interpretations insist that the ‘auxiliaries’ are dragging the barbarian prisoners to join their kindred in being bound to the trophy. However, there are indications that this might not be the case at all. First, the man on his knees is begging for mercy from Diana, who does look down on him. That same man wears around his neck a torque, suggesting him to be a Celt or German. It may be significant that Diana has her back turned to the observer and possibly the scene itself. She is the only one as such, and perhaps to contrast the celebration of victory in battle, she shows instead mercy to one pleading for his life. In addition, since the man is a leader, it makes for better propaganda that he should beg for mercy before a Roman goddess. Mercurius might not be dragging the woman to be bound to the trophy, but might be bringing her to kneel before Diana to beg for mercy as well. She shows the sign of a truce by placing her hand upon her chest. Perhaps Diana and Mercurius are sheltering them, perhaps offering them salvation in the final moments of victory. Whatever the case, the couple in #12 are not comparable to the despairing couple in #11, with whom they appear both to balance and contrast; balance by having barbarians on the right and left, literally balancing the composition, and contrast as one couple being doomed to be bound at the trophy, and the other begging for what looks like a chance of mercy.

Overall scene


A different view

The upper and lower scenes take place at different times, and are basically cause and effect. The lower scene takes place at the northern frontiers, just after a battle won by the Romans, who erect a victory trophy. Gathered prisoners of war are waiting for their punishment in grief or begging for mercy at the hands of assisting gods. The triumph on the battlefield precedes the triumph on the upper plate.

The upper scene is a fusion of Rome, Olympus, and the world of cities. Augustus is conspicuously above the birth sign he claimed, while the eagle personifying him as Jupiter sits below. He ended many years of internal strife for Rome and will forever wear the oak crown. In his right hand he holds a lituus – his augury stick in which he reads the signs and declares wars to be just. He faces Roma, representing all he united and saved from civil bloodshed. He sits equal to Roma, personifying a god. His feet lay upon armor, which could be identified with the newly conquered barbarians, or it may depict the descent of the Julian family from Mars through his human children Romulus and Remus. Unlike all the other figures, except for #7 and #8, the depiction of Augustus is considered to be an actual portrait because of the iris seen in his eye. Tiberius, Augustus’ adopted son, recently having fought in the north, comes back momentarily – for Victoria anxiously urges that he continue on to fight new battles and receive his triumph.

There are problems with this interpretation, however. The chariot is not one of victory. It would be unusual for a two-horse chariot to be used for the triumph. Also, Tiberius wears the toga. The toga represents civility and peace, not war. Perhaps this is a way to hand the victory to Augustus’ auguries. Tiberius steps down from the chariot, doing obeisance to Augustus, giving his adoptive parent the triumph and victory. If all this is true, then figure #8 could still be one of two persons, Drusus or Germanicus. By this age, Drusus was probably already dead, having fallen from his horse and suffered irreparable injuries. It could be, then, a representation of Drusus, and his memory, since he was fondly regarded by almost all. Since he is clad in fighting garb, the helmet probably beside him under the chariot, and coincidentally standing next to a horse, this could very well be Drusus. In addition, there are three constellations relating to the three portraits. Drusus would claim Gemini, though the Gemini is quite covert. If the portrait represented Drusus as alive, however, the gem would have been made about the same time as the Ara Pacis and the Altar of Augustus, sometime before 9 B.C., the year of Drusus’ death.

Others, though, think that Figure #8 is Germanicus, son of Drusus.[4] If the gem was commissioned no earlier than A.D. 12 and referred to Tiberius’ triumph over the Germans and the Pannonians, it would stand to reason that Germanicus, born in 13 B.C., was old enough to don gear and prepare for war, years after his father’s death. Germanicus was also looked upon quite fondly by Augustus and others. The dispute carries on.

Gemma Augustea is a beautiful work of art that seems to be based on dramatic Hellenistic compositions. The refined style of execution was more common in the late Augustan or earlier Tiberian age, though more likely Augustan. It is said that the image of Augustus as Jupiter is linked to future Roman triumphs by Horace in his Odes:

He’ll be brave who trusts himself to perfidious foes,
and he will crush the Carthaginians in a second war
who has tamely felt the chains upon his fettered
wrists and has stood in fear of death.
Such a one, not knowing how to live life secure,
has mixed peace with war.
O mighty Carthage, you rise
all the higher upon Italian ruins!
Tis said he set aside his wife’s chaste kisses and his
little children, as one bereft of civil rights,
and sternly bent his manly gaze upon the ground
till he should strengthen the Senate’s wavering purpose
by advice ne’er given before,
and amid sorrowing friends should hurry forth a glorious exile.
Full well he knew what the barbarian torturer was making
ready for him; and yet he pushed aside the kinsmen
who blocked his path and the people who would halt his going
with no less unconcern than if some case in court
had been decided, and he were leaving the tedious
business of his clients, speeding to Venafran fields,
or to Lacedaemonian Tarentum.
— Horace, Odes III 5

Saint of the Day for Sunday, December 28th, 2014: St. Anthony the Hermit

Image of St. Anthony the Hermit

St. Anthony the Hermit

Anthony was born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was first entrusted to the care of St. Severinus. After the death of Severinus, an … continue reading

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Saint of the Day for Saturday, December 27th, 2014: St. John the Apostle

The traditional site of the tomb of John_the_A...

The traditional site of the tomb of John_the_Apostle — one of Jesus’ twelve apostles in the ancient city of Ephesus, an important religious centre of early Christianity. Ephesus is today located in Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Five apostles: St. James, St. John the Apostle...

Five apostles: St. James, St. John the Apostle, St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Andrew. Harbaville Triptych: close-up on the bottom panel of the middle leaf, recto. Ivory with traces of polychromy, middle of the 10th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. John the Apostle

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast day – December 27th) St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His … continue reading

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More Art relating to John The Apostle:
English: Damian. "Jesus Christ and St. Jo...

English: Damian. “Jesus Christ and St. John the Apostle”. A detail of the Last Supper fresco from Ubisi, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Church dedicated to St. John the Apos...

English: Church dedicated to St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Polski: Kościół pw. św. Jana Apostoła i Ewangelisty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Church dedicated to St. John the Apos...

English: Church dedicated to St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Polski: Kościół pw. św. Jana Apostoła i Ewangelisty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Saint of the Day for Friday, December 26th, 2014: St. Stephen Observed worldwide by Christians of all denominations

Pope Dionysius (259 - 268), Fresco in Sixtine ...

Pope Dionysius (259 – 268), Fresco in Sixtine Chapel, Vatican (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image of St. Stephen

St. Stephen

Stephen’s name means “crown,” and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr’s crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they … continue reading

Pope Zosimus

Pope Zosimus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Adoration of the Magi. @BLMedieval Egerton 2125 f. 182v — Melibeus (@melibeus1): trei crai de la rasarit

Grupul psaltic Tronos-Trei crai de la rasarit.

Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Fili...

Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Adoration of the Magi, tapestry, wool and ...

The Adoration of the Magi, tapestry, wool and silk on cotton warp, 101 1/8 x 151 1/4 inches (258 x 384 cm.), Manchester Metropolitan University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Adoration of the Magi (circa 1305) by Giot...

The Adoration of the Magi (circa 1305) by Giotto, purportedly depicting Halley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Adoration of the Magi

The Adoration of the Magi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

today’s birthday: Jesus (c. 4 BCE)

Jesus (c. 4 BCE)

The primary sources for the life and teachings of Jesus—the central figure of Christianity—are the Gospels, but references to his life also appear in the works of non-Christian writers of antiquity, including Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus. Most scholars agree that Jesus was born just before the death of King Herod the Great in 4 BCE. The earliest extant reference to December 25 as Jesus’ birthday is in the Philocalian Calendar of Rome in 336 CE. What was Jesus’ surname? More… Discuss

Händel Messiah – Hallelujah Chorus: make music part of your life series

Händel Messiah – Hallelujah Chorus

today holiday: Tolling the Devil’s Knell (2014)

Tolling the Devil’s Knell (2014)

To celebrate the birth of Christ and the death of the Devil, All Saints Minster Church in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, rings its bell the same number of times as the number of the year (for example, 2,014 times in 2014) on Christmas Eve. The tolling starts at 11:00 PM, stops during the church service from midnight to 12:45, and then resumes until the years have been tolled away. The custom has been going on for almost 700 years. The bell has been called “Black Tom of Soothill” since the 13th century, and Tolling Black Tom is supposed to keep the parish safe from the Devil for another 12 months. More… Discuss

Saint of the Day for Sunday, December 21st, 2014: St. Peter Canisius

Image of St. Peter Canisius

St. Peter Canisius

In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a … continue reading

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Flamingos are large pink or red wading birds with long necks and webbed feet. They live in large flocks throughout the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Flamingos have several quirky traits, such as an oddly-shaped bill specially adapted to strain food—aquatic plants, shellfish, and frogs—from muddy water in marshes and lagoons. Flamingos also have the unusual ability to stand on one leg with the head laid on the back for hours. What typically dictates the vibrancy of a flamingo’s color? More… Discuss

Saint of the Day for Friday, December 19th, 2014: St. Nemesius

Merry Christmas from euzicasa! Post Card: Saddle-back Mountain from Huntington Beach Municipal Pier – December 2011-2014©

Saddle-back Mountain from Huntington Beach Municipal Pier - December 2011

Merry Christmas from euzicasa!  Post Card: Saddle-back Mountain from Huntington Beach Municipal Pier – December 2011-2014©

today’s birthday: Pope Leo X (1475)

Pope Leo X (1475)

Leo X, born into the important Florentine Medici family, rose to the papacy in 1513. He was a patron of the arts and a generous almsgiver, but he was also strongly criticized for his lavish lifestyle. He was not greatly interested in the advancement of the Church, and when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, Leo X’s subsequent excommunication of Luther did little to stem the tide of the Reformation. What massive animal did he keep as a pet? More… Discuss

Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 9th, 2014: St. Juan Diego

Image of St. Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego

Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 continue reading

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this day in the yesteryear: Pope Pius IX Defines Immaculate Conception as Dogma (1854)

Pope Pius IX Defines Immaculate Conception as Dogma (1854)

The Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic dogma that asserts that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved from the stain of original sin—the condition of sin that marks all humans as a result of Adam’s first act of disobedience—at the moment of her conception. In 1709, Pope Clement XI made the feast of the Immaculate Conception a holy day of obligation—145 years before it became official church dogma. The Immaculate Conception is often confused with what other church doctrine? More… Discuss

Saint of the Day for Thursday, December 4th, 2014: St. John of Damascus

Image of St. John of Damascus

St. John of Damascus

Saint John Damascene has the double honor of being the last but one of the fathers of the Eastern Church, and the greatest of her poets. It is surprising, however, how little that is authentic is … continue reading

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