Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Wedding at Cana

Paolo Veronese "The Wedding at Cana"

The Sunday gospel today relates the first miracle performed by Jesus, the changing of the water into wine. Various paintings have been produced of this event. In 1553, Paolo Veronese was summoned to Venice where he painted the famous “Wedding Feast at Cana,” which graces the refectory design by Palladio for the Benedictine Monastery on the Venetian island of San Giordio Maggiore.
This episode, told by the Apostle John, is a precursor or foreshadowing of the Eucharist.
With masterly freedom of interpretation, Veronese transposed the biblical episode to the sumptuous setting of a Venetian wedding. The bride and groom are seated at one end of the table, leaving the center place to the figure of Christ. He is surrounded by the Virgin, his disciples and no fewer than 130 guest, mixing biblical figures with men and women of the Renaissance. Some figures are dressed in traditional antique costumes, while others wear sumptuous coiffures and adornments. Several dogs, birds, a parakeet, and a cat frolic amidst the crowd. According to an 18th-century legend, the artist himself is depicted in white playing in viola da gamba next to other artists Titian and Bassano.
I always feel that the shortage of wine was caused by the presence of the disciples, whom Jesus took along with him, not just the 12, but as many as 72. No wonder Jesus had to come to the rescue after seeing his disciples draining the supply of wine, and having a jolly good time! Richard Crashaw once commented by saying that “the water in the jars saw its God, and it blushed!” And the wine we have on the altar for Mass becomes God at the consecration.

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