Anti-Movement Dynamics

This painting, by French artist Jehan-Georges Vibert (1840-1902), “The Missionary’s Adventures,” is of a Franciscan in the inner sanctum of the eccleastical hierarchy. It is a striking, visual representation of how to kill a movement.

It is also a graphic depiction of the dynamic that can exist between the church in its missionary, apostolic form and the the church in its ecclesiastical or “modalic” form.

Missionary Report

“Vibert is best known for his satirical scenes from ecclesiastical life. Here he draws a contrast between the inspired and modest missionary and the prelates in the midst of their comforts. The cardinals lounging on the sofa and purple-robed bishop savoring his tea are indifferent to the monk’s account of his mission and to the wound he received carrying it out. Ribera’s terrifying ‘Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew’ (Museo del Prado, Madrid), on the wall in this luxurious interior, adds a harsh note of irony to the scene below it.” – (from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).

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