Since childhood I have loved Christian art, no doubt due to my Roman Catholic upbringing. One of my favorite artists is Guido Reni (November 4, 1575—August 18, 1642), an Italian painter of the baroque period, who painted primarily religious themes.
When I was a girl, everyone brought a missal with them to church on Sunday. This missal was a Mass book, and contained the liturgy, plus all the gospel and Old and New Testament readings for every day of the year. It had ribbon markers for holding your places, but many people also collected holy cards as additional markers.
A holy card was a rectangular bookmark that had a religious image on one side and a prayer on the other. I believe some of my holy cards had works by Guido Reni on them.
Reni’s life was marked with drama that gave rise to legends about him. For example, in the painting St. Michael Archangel, Satan reportedly bears a resemblance to a cardinal (church official) whom Reni held a grudge against.
Reni received some important commissions in Rome to paint frescos in the Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Vatican. He was also given an assignment to paint the papal Chapel of the Annunciation, but because of a dispute about payment he left Rome and the job defaulted to another artist.
In 1618, Reni traveled to Naples to paint a ceiling in a chapel of the cathedral of San Gennaro. However, the prominent local painters loathed competitors, and supposedly conspired to poison or otherwise harm him. Reni abandoned Naples as soon as he could.
I’ve always had a special affinity for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Cecilia was my mother-in-law’s middle name, and we passed it on to our youngest daughter as her middle name.
St. Matthew is the author of the gospel that bears his name, inspired by God. Perhaps God sent him an angel to tell him what to record.
St. James the Greater was one of the sons of Zebedee; his brother’s name was John. He is commonly called “the Greater” to distinguish him from two other Jameses in the Bible.