Monday, June 29, 2009

Picturing Paul

I saw that yesterday's Vatican newspaper announced that a new, ancient image of St Paul has been discovered in the catacombs of Rome. Appropriately enough, it was in the Catacomb of St. Thecla. (Thecla, of course, was the ancient Church's feminine version of Paul: a bold evangelizer to the nations!) This "new" Paul seems to be the oldest image of him ever found--dating to around the 4th centry--and yet it totally matches the traditional "canon" of features for icons of St. Paul: a thin man, bald except for a dark ring of hair around the back of his head and a dark, pointed beard (the image "left breathless restorers": I'll try to find a better translation) . Meanwhile, here is a computer-rendered translation of an article about the find from the L'Osservatore Romano, by the great Italian Scripture scholar Gian Franco Ravasi.

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