Sunday, June 4, 2017


By Gregory & Ernest Disney-Britton
Gregory Disney-Britton poses as "Saint Paul the Hermit" at Virginia Fine Arts Museum
A seven-foot Baroque portrait of a first-century saint hangs in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. It's Italian artist Luca Giordano's 1705 depiction of Saint Paul the Hermitwho hid from religious persecution for 80+ years and depended on his daily bread being delivered to his cave by a raven. Giordano has chosen the moment of Saint Paul's death surrounded by angels and his hands uplifted in welcome. At his right side is a skull representing death, and to his lower left is a black raven with a loaf of bread in his mouth. This week, we drove 734-miles from Indianapolis through Virginia, the cradle of religious freedom in America beginning with Richmond.

We walked in the steps of American heroes like Thomas Jefferson, who edited his own version of the Bible; and sat on George Washington's church pew in Williamsburg. We rode rollercoasters with Muslim kids and gay kids at Kings Dominion, and we shared Virginia Beach with a Hindu bodybuilder (and IT specialist). We even met a group of modern-day American heroes, 100 wounded veterans of diverse faiths cycling 500-miles over one week to promote recovery and rehabilitation after a battle. Saint Peter the Hermit spent most of his life hiding from religious persecution, but thanks to people like Jefferson and the wounded warriors we met this week, Americans don't have to hide. We have our religious freedom.
"Saint Paul the Hermit" (1685-90) by Luca Giordano at Virginia Fine Arts Museum in Richmond, Va.
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