heads of serpents

“The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage
and the family.
Do not be afraid,
because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will
always be fought and opposed in every way,
because this is the decisive issue.
However, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”

Sister Lucia

(Madonna and Child with St Anne / Caravaggio / 1605-1606 / Galleria Borghese, Rome)

Caravaggio was a masterful late Renaissance painter who seems to have been able to
capture the overwhelming importance of certain biblical moments with merely the tip
of a brush.
He mixed both arrangement, size, light and proportion to make both impressive,
as well as tremendous, visual impacts.

Yet for many art historians, this particular painting is not considered one of his better works.
However workmanship aside, the visual representation based on the verse from Genesis 3:15,

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

is indeed a powerful painted statement none the less.

A little history behind the painting, taken from the site Caravaggio.org

The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne was painted between 1605 and 8 April 1606,
when a final payment to Caravaggio was recorded,
for the Confraternity of Sant’ Anna dei Palafrenieri, or Grooms, of the Vatican Palace.
The composition depicts Christ and the Virgin treading simultaneously on the serpent of heresy,
watched by the Virgin’s mother, St. Anne, who was the patron saint of the Palafrenieri.
It was an unusual although topical theme based on an ambiguous biblical passage, Genesis 3:15,
which does not make it clear whether it was Eve, the antetype of Mary, the ‘New Eve’,
or her offspring who was meant to strike at the serpent’s head.
What started as a theological dispute became caught up in the wider debate between
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism,
with the Protestants not unnaturally arguing in favour of the offspring and, hence, Christ.
The issue was resolved on the Roman Catholic side, however, with commendable textual accuracy,
not to say religious tact,
by a Bull of Pius V which ruled that ‘the Virgin crushed the head of the serpent
with the aid of him to whom she had given birth.’
It is this interpretation which Caravaggio followed, possibly basing himself on a
slightly earlier picture by the Milanese artist Figino.

Yet Papal Bulls, Reformations and denominations aside…
Today’s faithful know that the head of the serpent was indeed crushed following that fateful
Friday afternoon outside of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.
And if the truth be told, the vice hold on the head began that lone starry night
in Bethlehem 33 years prior.

The quote from above is offered by Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three shepherd children
who, while tending their sheep in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, were visited by a strange yet
lovely lady.

And yet it matters not where you are on your Christian journey as to whether you
take stock in the tale of the shepherd children or of the tale of the miraculous..
Just as it matters not as to whether you believe that there was indeed such a heavenly
encounter now 100 years passed…
The important thing here however is to understand that wisdom and warning both
come to us in a myriad of fashions.

There are many in today’s world, both believers and ardent non believers,
who wonder and even argue that those tales of miracles and those outspoken prophets of
the bible are found only there…
in between the pages of ancient texts…
and that our world has not been privy to such powerful and outspoken voices, with such
names as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, John, Peter, Paul and that we have not witnessed such
miraculous examples as to partings of seas, or to the raising of dead bodies,
or to waters that turn either to blood or wine…
but if truth be told,
both believers and non believers, yearn for that very thing.

It is a yearning for the tangible being found in the miraculous of that of the intangible.

Our current time is precarious at best…
Where persecution of the faithful becomes seemingly more elusive yet more sinister….
as it is an intellectual and spiritual suffocation.

While that which was once overt is no longer clearly visible but rather is now veiled in
the gossamer shadows of confusion.
It is a place where the notions of acceptance and approval pervasively reign for that
which is upside down.

What was once accepted as Truth has now been twisted into something other than
as we are being spoon fed a most palatable mix of half truths and lies…
all the while we continue to clamor for bite after tasty bite.

Yet the time has come…
shall the faithful speak up and speak out?

A final battle will eventually ensue..
there have been preparations, when he left us, he made certain we were well equipped.
As he has provided ample opportunities, all of which have been freely offered..
all the while as a holy foot has held the head of the serpent at bay…

So the choice is now clear, either we opt to crush the head of the serpent or
we become his prey…

He who commits sin is of the devil;
for the devil has sinned from the beginning.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him,
and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil:
whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:8-10

28 comments on “heads of serpents

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Julie, Sr. Lucia’s cousins, Jacinta and Fransisco Marto, were recently declared saints but her own case is still pending because she died a lot more recently: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/joseph-pronechen/sister-lucia-of-fatima-takes-step-toward-beatification

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    I learn something from you all the time. You must have been a great art history teacher. I would have loved to sit in on one of your classes.

  3. I learn something from you all the time, too. 🙂

  4. ColorStorm says:

    Ah a fav topic of mine! Love the painting. Do not like the inferences.

    That the mother of the Lord instructs Him as to the treading of serpents………. ;(

    Hey, you need someone around here to provide opposite context right? I’m pretty sure J. that the ‘new Eve’ is a liberty that scripture does not afford, for the implication is SINCE there is a LAST Adam, ie, Christ, why not have the female version?

    Personally, I do not need Fatima, (not to slight your political connection there) Medjugorye, San Juan, or New Orleans, to tell me about the seed of the woman.

    Agreed though, there is a spiritual battle, and ultimately Christ Himself won the battle, as you say, on that fateful Friday……. And btw, of course we know that believers are ‘saints by calling,’ not by popularity or votes. At least so sez scripture. 😉

    • I don’t see it as opposition CS but rather your perspective. I am not Catholic and it was not my point nor place to infer that Mary is greater than her son…I was sharing a painting by an artist who, if the truth be told was both a scoundrel, thief, hot head and murderer but gifted none the less with a brush and with sharing biblical tales….If there is anyone I think who knows the difference…it would be Mary…for Mary knew more keenly than either you or I that her son, was God’s only begotten…and her own Lord and savior—as I cannot even begin to look into her pierced heart…but I can look to the miraculous and those moments experienced of Divine Nature—and there have been those times of the Divine found in the unexplainable.
      It is not for me to fuss, cuss or dispute various claims of Divine encounters such as Fatima or Medjugorje, or Guadalupe or even a crucifix that spoke to a young Francesco Bernardone to rebuild the church… or any other large or small, public or private Holy encounter—
      Belief in snake oil is not what I’m selling, nor is it being sold by those dear souls over the millennium who have met God along the various roads of life—be it Damascus or a prison cell in Auschwitz …
      God speaks spoke to us—in bushes, in clouds, tumults and calm just as He continues speaking…it’s just that some of us are better at hearing and listening than others…I for one want to leave my ears, heart and soul open…

      • ColorStorm says:

        I know you too well j to suggest that you are shortsighted in any way with your observations. And conversely, you probably know that I am well aware that God uses us in spite of our denominational tendencies.

        At the end of the day, we should realize that there is ‘another’ gospel, which as Paul says, is not another, and that the serpent has other plans, to thwart the excellencies of the promises of God as revealed through Christ.

        It is certainly our business to be well aware of his devices. 😉 The enemy of God has a rather large toolbox. He even uses angels of light. We can write books of his arsenal which is larger than a Sears catalog.

      • Indeed my friend ☺️

  5. Wally Fry says:

    Another great teaching Julie. No matter the theology, the basic truth of what has ALREADY happened to that devil remains true.

  6. Melissa Presser, Lover of Jesus says:

    This is amazing Julie and written in such a way that only you can do. Your contemplative spirit always speaks volumes to me. And yes I too am “listening.” Love you-

  7. oneta hayes says:

    Lot of info here for me to digest. I think I agree with all that the serpent was trampled by the event of Christ’s coming, with additional beatings by the cross of Christ. Thanks for the research you did on this blog.

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    The differences between Catholics and Protestants are real enough, but they can be bridged profitably with a understanding. Thanks for providing a little understanding.

  9. As always chocked full of info and right on insights! 🙂 ❤

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