The Bris

The reading this morning from Galatians ("It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.") reminded me of this painting by Fra Angelico of the circumcision of Christ.

This scene is one of forty-one scenes from the life of Christ that were painted on the doors of a huge chest at the behest of Piero de Medici in the late 1440's and is on display in the Museo di San Marco in Florence. (Well, actually 35 of them because six were somehow lost.) The image here suffers a little from the glare, but you can see that Jesus is not really excited about what is going to happen to him and Mary (like many mothers at a bris) chooses to look elsewhere. Only Joseph and the mohel (who is cut out of this closeup but you can see his hands) are focused on the baby.

The museum at the church and monastery of San Marco, where there is a large collection of the works of Fra - or Beato- Angelico, was one of the highlights of my visit to Florence.