September 20, 2013

"The Calling of St. Matthew" — the Caravaggio painting often contemplated by Pope Francis.



"That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew."

"It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff." Then the pope whispers in Latin: "I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance."

22 comments:

phx said...

That's an incredibly beautiful and profound explanation from the Pope. It burns the heart.

EDH said...

Now we know where that god awful habit of pointing at someone next to you in a "selfie" or Facebook photo comes from.

BarrySanders20 said...

What aren't those men sitting at the table wearing pants?

Or, Althouse horrors, are they wearing really short shorts?

Maybe they lost their pants to Matthew in a card game. He has all the money already.

Anyway, I like the new pope.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't know about pants, but those are some luscious, manly thighs.

What was the Pope thinking about?

What is that picture really about?

Man thighs!

Ann Althouse said...

The thigh to calf ratio in that picture is 5 to 3.

Think about it.

Sigh.

Ann Althouse said...

Now, that painting has 3 levels, corresponding to Freud's Superego, Ego, and Id.

At the top, there's a lot of empty space. You might ask why it's even there in the composition. What's with the window. Not much going on there.

That's God's realm. See the slant of light, the opaque window. You can't know that part, but it's there.

The middle zone seems like the main part of the picture, the real-life narrative, lots of faces and hands, the pointing, the money-hoarding.

But let's focus on the lower part, below the line of the table. Are you tempted to go down there, sinner? Look at the deep dark spaces between the legs. Note how the underside of the table suggests an erect penis on the deeply troubled Matthew. (And isn't Matthew handsome?!) Note the spread legs of the man in the middle and the darkness between those legs. Notice how we are deprived of the details of the buttocks of the man with his back to us, but there's a penile (or breast-like) outline at the base of the bench he straddles.

JOB said...

My numbers were always thorough; my sums
A public record. Kissing up to Rome,
I built one mansion out of many slums –
But for what? Well, to levy my good name…
Ah, “One and Many!” Mere philosophic
Nonsense! I thought. Heady legerdemain,
I thought. I’ll give you “one.” Here’s a whole stack
Of ones in one breath, coin by gleaming coin.
The “many” too? Very many! – too many
If you count those beastly crowds who shadow
That one there, discounting Caesar’s penny,
More fair and square than angels should allow.
He asked outright, “And you, will you follow?”
But had me sold when he added “Matthew.”

Ann Althouse said...

I'm sure all these things (and more) have been pointing out a million times.

That painting is about pointing, so let's point. All are encouraged to point.

Why pick Matthew? Well, if you walked into that room and had to pick one man, wouldn't you pick Matthew?

pm317 said...

I, a confirmed atheist like this pope. He inspires me to be a better person not because of religion but because that is the way to be.

Ann Althouse said...

American men in shorts are not about thighs. They are about calves.

They have great calves, but ask yourself, oh man in shorts, wondering what Althouse might think: Do you have great calves?

southcentralpa said...

pm317 Consider taking Pascal's Wager ...

EDH said...

Ann Althouse said...
I don't know about pants, but those are some luscious, manly thighs.

Yea, baby, talk about that on Bloggingheads.

LarsPorsena said...

Ann Althouse said...

The thigh to calf ratio in that picture is 5 to 3.

Think about it.

Sigh.

9/20/13, 8:59 AM
_________________________________

Just how did you calculate that ratio.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Althouse's phallic interpretation of the men in Caravagino's painting give new meaning to "penance."

I'm not at all sure what it does to further reconciliation.

Tank said...

Ann Althouse said...
American men in shorts are not about thighs. They are about calves.

They have great calves, but ask yourself, oh man in shorts, wondering what Althouse might think: Do you have great calves?


Actually, Mrs. Tank always says I have great calves and should wear shorts more often.

David said...

A truly modern Pope, who assumes that the modern revisionists are correct that Matthew is the young man at the end of the table with his head down. For centuries it was assumed that Matthew was the bearded man in the middle, and was pointing at himself.

I have no idea which is right. However there is a tremendous amount of energy flowing from right to left in the painting, which has not yet energized the young man with the bowed head.

David said...

Caravaggio was a rowdy lecherous hothead. The guys at the table are his boys.

Nice poem, Job. Yours?

Dr.D said...

Well, Frank got that one right. But even a stopped clock is correct twice every day.

Inga said...

Relax, they're wearing tights.

Freeman Hunt said...

I love this painting. It has been my Facebook cover image for the last month or so. I have it awkwardly positioned though. One must position it way up or Jesus ends up pointing at the user's avatar. I guess if one had a huge ego, he could leave it that way.

Paco Wové said...

"A truly modern Pope, who assumes that the modern revisionists are correct that Matthew is the young man at the end of the table with his head down."

I'm afraid the Pope's gone all fallible on this one. The Calling is one of a pair of paintings about Matthew, and in the second (The Martyrdom of St. Matthew) Matthew clearly more closely resembles the balding, middle-aged man pointing at himself in the Calling.

The Godfather said...

The Pope is doing what Christians (even Episcopalians like me) often do: We identify with the flawed characters in scripture. Certainly Matthew the tax collector (whichever figure he is) is an example. So is Peter, who denied Christ, and Paul who persecuted his followers. We identify with the flawed, weak, sinful characters and pray that, like them, we may be given the amazing grace to overcome who we know we are.