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Title: 'Nicht in der Schönheit der Farben...'
Subtitle: Barmherziger Jesus und Erbärmde-Christus: Ein Vergleich zwischen dem Visionsbild der Schwester Faustyna Kowalska und der spätmittelalterlichen imago pietatis
Author(s): HASTETTER, Michaela Christine
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 20    Date: 2010   
Pages: 17-65
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.20.0.2061143

Abstract :
The Image of the Divine Mercy dating back to the visions received by the Polish mystic St Faustyna Kowalska is generally considered among art critics as being of little artistic value. In this essay it serves as a starting point for some fundamental reflections on Romano Guardini’s distinction between cult image and devotional image. Having placed the image in its broader spiritual context, the essay examines the Divine Mercy painting by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, which seems to fit better into the category of the cult image than the more popular version by Adolf Hyła, for possible parallels with earlier iconographical traditions. The analysis reveals surprising similarities with the late medieval imago pietatis, concerning posture, facial expression, clothing, the positioning of rays and the connection with the Mass of Saint Gregory. Whether the imagery of Sr Faustyna’s visions was indeed influenced by this tradition can, of course, not be fully ascertained, even though the iconographic and spiritual analysis of the painting would suggest that this is so (all the more, since a hitherto unconsidered imago pietatis is venerated in the Reformed Franciscan Priory of Krakow). The essay finishes with five conclusions concerning a spiritual aesthetics for this type of religious image.

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