Irene.


The theme has been reinterpreted many times in art history, primarily in the 17 century;  St. Sebastian tended to by St. Irene. I've only put up a few examples here, however there are many more to be seen if you care to do a Google search.

Here are the holy women, St. Irene with her attendants in these first two reproductions. They are nursing his wounds by candlelight. 

See how calmly Irene removes the arrow? I suspect Georges del laTour must have been a serene individual. His paintings always come across that way; with such an air of serenity. 



Georges del la Tour, St. Sebastian tended to by the Holy Women. 

St Irene and St Sebastian both lived in Rome during the Reign of Diocletian. The Emperor sentenced St. Sebastian to be put to death. Intending to bury his arrow ravaged body, the widow Irene found Sebastian still clinging to life, so she nursed him back to health.


Georges de La Tour. 
St. Sebastian Tended by St. Irene. c.1634-1643.


Through these paintings, St Irene became an icon of Catholic charity during Post-Reformation times. Don't you think we need more 'St. Irenes' in the Church today? What with all the bickering that goes on. Perhaps the extent to which religious persecution exists also (unfortunately) measures the amount of infighting and bickering. Because Christians can't afford to argue when the arrows of their real enemies are flying towards them. You know?  



Hendrick ter Brugghen 
Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene, 1625

In this last painting above, Brugghen places great emphasis on a two dimensional composition. The artist dramatically packs all the action up in the foreground. The sun is setting behind them, and yet one can clearly see there's also a source of light in front of them. That's curious. I wonder what the artist meant to imply by that. Perhaps it's some kind of metaphor. The light in the background is the natural light, which is setting, while the light that comes from beyond the foreground--which is a far greater light, is a supernatural light. I wonder if the artist is saying that the ruler of this world (the meaning of the name Lucifer is 'carrier of the light') is soon passing away. The light of Christ now reigns, despite any arrows; despite any and all circumstances we may find ourselves in that seemingly contradict His victory. We wait in joyful hope. We are so lucky. Deo gratias!


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