Calling and Caravaggio


Convivium, 21 September 2017

Today Father Raymond J. de Souza revisits the light and beauty of Caravaggio's timeless work ‘The Calling of St. Matthew’ and the truth it continues to communicate to viewers in this day and age. 

ROME – I think it was 15 years ago that I was last in Rome on the feast day of St. Matthew. (According to the Catholic liturgical calendar, September 21.) It’s been a while since I could do what I always did during my student days in Rome on St. Matthew’s feast, namely visit the Contarelli chapel in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi.

Why St. Louis of France? France’s national church in Rome is full of masterpieces – like so many others in this city of sacred art and architecture. And like many other churches too, the greatest treasure is not the main altarpiece, but a rather a side chapel. The one everyone visits in San Luigi contains a series of three paintings of the life of St. Matthew, done by Caravaggio around the year 1600.

The Calling of St. Matthew is the most splendid of the three, but the other two, The Martyrdom of St. Matthew and The Inspiration of St. Matthew are none too shabby. In Canada we would build an entire cathedral or art gallery around any one of the three.

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