I was visiting a painter friend of mine, Richard Moore, who is working on a couple of commissions for us: a painting of St Genesius to be presented to the Holy Father during our pilgrimage to Rome in April, and a series of paintings depicting the life and martyrdom of St Genesius, which he is doing in watercolour. I was stunned by the beauty and dynamism of the works, and the portrait of Genesius for the Pope was very engaging. When the works are finished I may upload some of them on to the blog.
Richard normally paints landscapes and city scenes, but a couple of years ago we engaged him to do a realist painting of St Genesius to compliment the Icon: the image of the martyr I use on my blog (above right) is a detail from the painting - the model was an Italian actor. As we were discussing the series of watercolours, I asked him how he was going to depict that dramatic moment when Genesius was touched by the Holy Spirit and converted: Richard went silent, he was deep in thought.
What a challenge! To depict in an image the dramatic turn of a human heart, an overwhelming encounter with God - an upheaval It is so easy to fall into melodrama, and even easier to stumble at the final hurdle and fail. The greatest artists are those who can capture that moment.
The Conversion of St Paul, the feast we celebrate today, is an event which offers such a challenge to the artist. Some chose not to show Paul's face, just the dramatic fall, the twisted body, the shock on the faces of Paul's companions. But this event presents all of us with such a challenge - not merely to try depicting the event on canvas, but rather to see it in the context of our own lives - a moment of conversion for all of us.
How would we react to such a revelation? Such revelations, though not as dramatic as Paul's, are part and parcel of our daily lives as God reaches out to us and calls us into a deeper relationship with him, and anoints us as his missionaries in the world. How do we respond to that call? How do we as Christians manifest in our daily lives the same light that floored the bigot Saul and made him the Apostle Paul?
Now there's something to reduce all of us to silence as we work it out, prayerfully. Happy feast day.