Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Caravaggio Masterpiece on Mercy Calls to Pope Francis Across the Centuries

By David Gibson
“The Guardian of Mercy,” by Terence Ward. Available online at
If Pope Francis wanted a single image to illustrate the special Year of Mercy that is the current focus of his ministry and, indeed, the theme at the heart of his pontificate, he could do no better than choosing an underappreciated masterpiece by the thrilling Italian artist known as Caravaggio. In fact, the 400-year-old canvas, an altarpiece in a Naples church titled “The Seven Acts of Mercy,” may represent the perfect combination of the man — or, rather, two men — and the moment: a brilliant painter with a scurrilous reputation who was striving for redemption, and a popular pontiff struggling to make the church more welcoming to outcasts. “A dramatic convergence has taken place between Pope Francis’ teachings and Caravaggio’s message,” writes Terence Ward in his new book on the painting, titled “The Guardian of Mercy.”[link]