Wednesday was museum day for me. It was supposed to rain, so I’d scheduled myself for an afternoon at “El Prado,” Spain’s national art museum.
I’m not huge on art, but I was very moved by an exhibit I saw in Toledo last week. It was by Abraham de la Cruz, a Jew turned Catholic monk who is using his dual perspective to help bridge the gap between the Catholic Church and Israel.
Born Abraham Kron, de la Cruz founded a monastic order, Fraternidad Maria Estella de la Mañana. Their stated purpose is to “participate in the suffering of the Lord due to the schism between Israel and the Church, desiring to see the image of God reflected in a relationship of love” between Israel and the Church. I encourage you to pray for these men as they seek God and seek to reconcile the Church to Israel.
Following is my favorite piece by de la Cruz: Meguilat Rut (the Scroll of Ruth).
Well, after experiencing first hand the power of art, I relented and decided to visit El Prado. The works are beautiful. The historical pieces, such as Goya’s pieces “El dos de mayo” and “El tres de mayo” attract me for their documentation and commentary. And the Christian pieces attract me as a follower of Christ.
In three hours of viewing art pieces, one artist stood out to me… and one I’d never heard of before: Juan Bautista Maino. He, too, was a monk.
When you see lots of Christian art, you will find that the same themes and scenes are painted over and over again. Because of this, it becomes easy to pick your favorite style and critique theological details. Maino seems to get his theology right, and the costuming of his subjects isn’t overpowering as to seem anachronistic (I’m easily put off by paintings of pale, aristrocratic, medieval people portraying Middle Eastern scenes).
So here are four pieces by Maino, depicting the adoration of the shepherds, the adoration of the magi (notice he made them two distinct pieces in two distinct settings) and two versions of the spirit descending on the disciples at Pentecost.