A Brief Note of Thanks

I want to take a moment to thank all of my subscribers and readers for your kind messages of support over the last seven weeks. The Masses, rosaries, novenas, prayers, and kind gestures have meant a great deal to me and my family. Your charitable actions will not be forgotten.

My Mother was seriously ill for the past few years. I did not write about this, or talk about this openly, whether in print or on the air; some have expressed surprise that I did not share this with my readers. Given the outpouring of kindness from you, perhaps I should have.

However, I did not do so for the simple reason that it was not my illness to share. I respected my Mother’s privacy enough to only speak privately about what was happening to a select few. Thus, you should not expect to read anything further from me regarding this subject at present. Perhaps one day I may change my mind, but the circumstances would have to be very particular.

In the meantime, I am also not quite ready to start writing again. I know I need to do so, but I also need time to reflect on how and why I write, and whether some changes are warranted. To that end, I’m likely going to hold off on posting again until I return from the CNMC in Atlanta, hosted by SQPN. If you happen to be attending – and you should definitely be there – I hope you will come over and say hello.

My most grateful thanks!

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Of Your Charity…

Dear Readers:

My Mother died yesterday after suffering a long illness. Therefore I will be taking a break from blogging for a bit, but I will return soon. In the interim, I very humbly ask you to please say a prayer for the repose of her soul.

Thank you and God bless you.

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Playing Soccer With A Michelangelo

The Prado certainly seems to be on a roll lately.

First there was news of the new van der Weyden exhibition, which I wrote about last week, and now news that the only Michelangelo sculpture in Spain is being put on display for three months at the museum, following a twenty-year restoration. The work, a statue of the Young St. John the Baptist owned by the Dukes of Medinacelli, is not particularly impressive. And yet the story of why it needed so much restoration should not be swept under the rug, as art historians tend to do these days when it comes to those with whom they have anticlerical sympathies.

In about 1495 in Florence, Michelangelo carved a statue of the Young St. John the Baptist for Lorenzo de Medici, but no trace of it has been found in Italy. Current thinking is that the statue was one mentioned in correspondence as being given as a gift by Cosimo I, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, to Francisco de los Cobos y Molina, the private secretary of Emperor Charles V. He in turn installed the statue in his family’s funerary chapel.  De los Cobos’ titles, etc. eventually came into the Medinacelli family, as did the family chapel, located in the Andalusian city of Úbeda. 

There the statue stayed for nearly 400 years, until in the early 1930’s debate began to swirl around whether the work was the missing Michelangelo. At this point however, events took a tragic turn with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.  Anticlerical leftist (laughably referred to as “Republicans” by most historians) troops sacked, burnt, and destroyed churches and ecclesiastical works of art all over the country, and the chapel housing the remains of the de los Cobos was no exception. Worse, the statue of the Young St. John was smashed to pieces, with the soldiers reportedly using the head as a soccer ball for fun.

In 1994 the Medinacellis had the fragments sent to Florence for restoration, which took twenty years to complete. Today, the statue is about 40% original, with the remaining 60% made of resin and other materials. It was put together using old images of the piece before it was damaged, and with the assistance of modern technological scanning and measuring through computer assistance, to achieve a truly remarkable result, given what the restorers started with. 

This being the first time that the more-or-less-complete statue will be on public display in a major city, for art historians and connoisseurs this will be a wonderful opportunity to finally air some of the questions, assertions, doubts, and so on that often come with uncertain attributions. Debate will likely be lively and ongoing for some time. It is unfortunate that such wonton destruction however, was the catalyst for it.

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The statue after being vandalized