Sunday, January 08, 2006

Catholic Masterpieces XII: Jesus Returning to Nazareth with His Parents

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
-Luke 2: 51-52

This is the first "Catholic Masterpiece" that was painted by an artist who wasn't Catholic. William Charles Thomas Dobson, the English painter of Jesus Returning to Nazareth with His Parents, was born after the schism of Henry VIII (he lived from 1817-1898; he should not be confused with the earlier English artist, William Dobson, who lived from 1610-1646). However, this painting portrays a very Catholic subject - the Holy Family, whose feast is observed on the Sunday within the octave of the Epiphany on the traditional Latin calendar.

The 1983 Marian House edition of Dom Guéranger's masterpiece, The Liturgical Year, describes the history of the feast (it was actually added after Dom Guéranger's death):

The Feast of the Holy Family is of recent origin. In 1663 Barbara d'Hillehoust founded at Montreal the Association of the Holy Family; this devotion soon spread and in 1893 Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office. The Feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an effacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth, and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society. These motives led Benedict XV to insert the Feast in the universal Calendar, and from 1921 it has been fixed for this present Sunday.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who, becoming subject to Mary and Joseph, didst hallow home life by singular virtues; by the help of both, do thou grant that we may be taught by the example of thy Holy Family, and have fellowship with it forevermore.
-Collect for the Feast of the Holy Family


Blogger Iosephus said...

That's quite a picture, Matthew. I'm not sure why St. Joseph is carrying the "child" Jesus, who is looking rather large and in charge - that depiction certainly gives the painting a unique feel.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to leave such a comment here as it has nothing to do with the gorgeous Catholic masterpiece you've shown us, but I have to alert you to a link you have that needs to be updated. The site "Apologia: Apologetics and Traditional Catholic Instruction" has changed its name and moved to its own domain. The new name is: "Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism" and the URL is: As you were!

1:38 AM  

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