Saturday, March 3, 2012

parsing flames

Saint Ignatius of Antioch in Cleveland, Ohio has seventy-five stained glass windows. Twenty-four tall, rounded lancet ones have five scenes portrayed. The bottom scene on the Last Judgement window shows the flames of Hell, and those people damned in torment. It limns the Scripture:
And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night, who have adored the beast, and his image, and whoever receiveth the character of his name. Apocalypse 14:11

The Conversion of Saint Paul, Cleveland, Ohio has a double lancet stained glass window depicting the elevation of the Host during Mass; at the bottom there is shown some souls in Purgatory, and its cleansing flames. While both scenes have tongues of flame about individuals, the condition of those engulfed is quite different. Look at the postures and faces of the people. Those in Hell have forlorn, angered, covetous, accusing countenances and gestures; those in Purgatory are in supplication, for their torment is transitory, and is being alleviated by the celebration of Mass.

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