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Carrying our Cross: A Meditation Following the Paintings and Life of Fra Angelico

June 14, 2017

In the Convent of San Marco, Florence, where Fra Angelico spent many years as a monk, lessons linger on the walls for our meditation.

“The life of man upon earth is a warfare.” No human life is without trials of all sorts. The Christian knows the origin of these sufferings and with just cause identifies it as original sin with its terrible consequences. 

Since this so, Christians commonly speak about suffering as a cross, thereby expressing in an intuitive way the fact that our sufferings have value or usefulness only if they are united to the redemptive sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This union is accomplished, in the state of grace, through the charity that gives a soul a right to merit. Our sufferings, freely accepted, then become instruments of salvation, a means of asking forgiveness for our sins and for those of our neighbor, to make amends for them, to turn our hearts toward the Good Lord.

It is advisable therefore to know how to carry one’s cross, how to face one’s sufferings and to make them meritorious. In order to do that, let us go to the school of an artist, Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar and painter. We will have plenty of resources combined with those of the contemplative to examine this delicate subject. Fra Angelico painted several frescos depicting St. Dominic at the foot of the cross. Through his paintings he expresses the dispositions of the Christian soul when faced with suffering and also the effects of the cross in our soul.

See the Paintings and Symbolism of Fra Angelico's Series on the Crucifixion