Relic Veneration and Icon Veneration: Parallel? St. John Chrysostom says “Yes”

In Christianity, God is presented as the transcendent Creator who is sovereign over all of the affairs of creation. He also presents Himself as wholly immanent to all things and even fuses into creatures a mark of His divinity by supernatural and miraculous signs. He does this, especially with people whom He has chosen to share in His holiness.  In what might be spooky for some and exhilarating for others, one of the more interesting ways that God does this is in the display of His saving power mediated through the relics of Saints. Relics from the Saints are some leftover remains that were bound up with the person and identity of a particular Saint. It could be an object like clothing but most usually from their dead body if not kept whole. As we will see, there are written accounts so far back as the Old Testament as well as the New Testament that speak of the power of relics. In the early decades of the Church, we already see that there was a cultus (organized honor and veneration) of relics.

What I’d like to do in this article is to contribute another piece to the outstanding discussion going on about the history of icon veneration, codified at the 2nd Council of Nicaea (787). As many know, Dr. Gavin Ortlund has given some powerful and engaging presentations on the subject of icon veneration in the first millennium of Church history and this has motivated a number of responses. I think the issues at hand should be taken seriously and carefully considered. In this piece, I would like to suggest that there are some very good reasons to believe that what became the Byzantine custom icon veneration can be organically present already in the practice of relic veneration. Now, to be clear, when we are discussing this subject, saying “veneration of icons” or “relics”, it should be understood what is meant is the veneration-of-persons through icons or relics. Of course, that puts a certain dignity, value, and status to the material that is made in the case of an icon or that is preserved in the case of a relic. But no good iconophile of the later Byzantine era would have suggested the material served an end of its own. I thus argue that the very early testimonies of Church fathers who speak about the veneration of relics are really just a primitive form of what became the veneration of created likenesses of Christ and the Saints. How is that?

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Weaponizing Catholic Scholars against Catholicism (Vatican 1)?

When 𝑅𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑜𝑛 & 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑦 hosted the Rev. Dr. Richard Price (Heythrop) on the subject of the Papacy in Greek and Latin sides of the 1st millennium, there were commentators who were quick to turn Price into an anti-Catholic weapon by which to falsify the 1st Vatican Council. That was not a surprise, as many Protestants and Eastern Orthodox students of history have noticed a handy help in Roman Catholic scholars themselves against Catholic doctrine. However, I think that this is a tad bit one-sided, quite often. While it is true that one can run through a good number of Roman Catholic scholars and find all sorts of concessions that seem to score points for someone who is against the Papacy, if it is equally observed what these same scholars say about foundational claims of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly the latter, then it gets manifested that weaponizing these scholars as anti-Catholic weapons, and not anti-Orthodox weapons, is a result of being short-sighted in the study of their material.

We see this, for ex, with Fr. Price when it comes to iconology and iconodulia since he admits that while the bishops of Nicaea (787) were theologically correct, the iconoclasts were historically correct in saying icons were not produced and venerated by the Apostles and their immediate successors. That’s a massive blow under the floor of Eastern Orthodoxy, though we may contest it (and rightly so!). Nevertheless, the point is clear. Just when you’ve thought you got yourself a nice weapon, it has too much kick-back.

I wish here to draw attention to some statements by another Catholic scholar who has the potential to be used, similar to Fr. Price, as a weapon against Catholicism, but which ends up being a two-edge sword that cuts into the weaponizers. I’ll bring it all into a nice wrap in the end but challenge yourself by trying to find it on your own as I work up to the conclusion.

The late Fr. Francis A Sullivan SJ (1922-2019) was a prominent Catholic theologian in the area of the magisterium and ecclesiology. He was extremely well educated. Besides getting his PhD, he achieved the status of both 𝑆𝑎𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑒 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑖𝑎𝑒 𝐿𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑠 (STL) and 𝑆𝑎𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑒 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑖𝑎𝑒 𝐷𝑜𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟 (STD), which is a Licentiate of Sacred Theology and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. He seems to have been a center-left (?) theologian, seeing as he pitched in thoughts doubting the infallibility of 𝑂𝑟𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜 𝑆𝑎𝑐𝑒𝑟𝑑𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑠 (regarding woman’s ordination) and the Church’s stance against contraception. One might say he wasn’t so much, even in the slightest, pro female ordination or pro contraception, but was enamored with something that we intuitively expect would be easy to grasp but is not, namely, the complexity of what makes an infallible teaching via the universal ordinary magisterium (and being able to recognize it as such!).

And that brings me to what I want to speak about regarding his work. I think Sullivan is another instance, similar to most contemporary Catholic theologians, of someone who was caught up in a very risky understanding of doctrinal development and with the dynamics of divine revelation. That is, he made some concessions which would be quite obviously seem to go against the credibility of Catholic doctrine, but he cleverly ends up regaining traction just before falling into the ditch by a complex set of nuanced thinking, all which seem unhelpful at first. Consider what he says below concerning the existence of the “Roman Papacy” in the New Testament:

“𝗪𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗸𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗿 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝘄𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗲. 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗳 𝗶𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵’𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲, 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘄𝗲 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗮𝘀 𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗰𝘆. 𝗜𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗯𝘃𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗲 𝗱𝗼 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗲𝘅𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗧𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵. 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗮 𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀-𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁, 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝘄𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗹𝘆-𝗴𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗱, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗱𝗲 𝗶𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗼, 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗧𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁. 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗿𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝘀 𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗰𝘆, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁-𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗧𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁, 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁’𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵… 𝗔𝘀 𝘄𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝗲𝗲, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗴𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗳𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗮𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗿 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗽𝘂𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗮𝗳𝗲𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗱𝗼𝘅 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝘁𝗵. 𝗜𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗳𝗿𝘂𝗶𝘁 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝗼𝗹𝘆 𝗦𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗶𝘁. 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆, 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗳 𝗶𝗻 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗰𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗖𝗵𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗵 𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗱. 𝗜𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝘂𝘀, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻, 𝘁𝗼 𝗼𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗼𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗶𝘂𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗶𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗳 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗥𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺. ” (𝑴𝒂𝒈𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒖𝒎: 𝑻𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑨𝒖𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑪𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒄 𝑪𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒄𝒉 (𝑷𝒂𝒖𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕 𝑷𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒔, 1983), 83-84).

Sullivan thinks that whatever God revealed in Christ with the Apostles, it was not such that a “Roman papacy” existed during that time. One can find similar statements in the scholarship of Fr. Klaus Schatz, for example. That sounds like a nice little golden nugget to bring up to the next Catholic apologist next time a debate on the subject comes up. The Papacy not existing during the times of the New Testament. Yeah, that sounds bad.

Now, before we get too excited, one will notice a few things. He doesn’t just say the Roman papacy didn’t exist. He says they did not exist “as such”, which means they existed in another form perhaps. In fact, he does say that the Roman papacy is the product of “seminal factors already present in the New Testament” but not explicitly unfolded. One might make some sense of this, though I think this kind of language tends to be less helpful. One might also refer to Sullivan’s work on the monoepiscopate, which he thinks did not exist directly after Peter and Paul in the Roman ekklesia, something which I can’t imagine is reasonably consistent with the 1st Vatican Council (though again, there is no end of supply of arguments from people who try to say that it is). At best, Sullivan is aiming for substantial continuity even if his theory has no material for it.

Moreover, the Papacy and Papal infallibility, he writes, were at the other end of centuries long development. This sounds like the early Church simply didn’t believe in it, not so much because she protested against the idea, but because it wasn’t even a consideration of mind to be dealt with to begin with! Problematic, yes.

But notice also how Sullivan thinks that Conciliar infallibility and Ecumenical Councils, too, were not concepts in existence during the New Testament. And here he doesn’t simply mean the imperial stature of those Councils, but the concept of an infallible synod altogether. Sullivan also thinks this was not present during New Testament times, nor directly after it. Rather, it also took centuries. This is quite clear in that he references the work of the Jesuit theologian Herman Josef Sieben whose work 𝘋𝘪𝘦 𝘒𝘰𝘯𝘻𝘪𝘭𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘈𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘒𝘪𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘦 (1979) “showed” how the Fathers in the Councils did not show a sense of recognition that their decisions were *a priori* infallible (p. 85). I happen to think this is factually wrong, but I am not going to venture in that direction. Sieben held that the only true criterion for the ecumenicity of Councils is when its decrees were received by the whole Church, as consonant with Scripture and Tradition. This, too, is also problematic and requires some further defining, but I’m staying on another point for now (if you’d like to discuss, bring it up in the comments).

Sullivan also thinks that it was understood within the 7 era of Ecumenical Councils that infallible teaching required the unique participation of the successor of St. Peter (p. 76), and not just as another Patriarch in a series of Patriarchs, or even the lead Patriarch, but because of a special investment given to St. Peter, the original primate of the Roman diocese. The idea is that a divinely instituted leadership was bestowed on Peter individually and which gets passed, by way of lineal succession, to the successors to his stationary cathedra fixed in Rome. This is a theory which is unacceptable to Eastern Orthodoxy ecclesiology, but which Sullivan thinks is present in the 1st millennium history.

Thus, we have Sullivan’s scholarship giving us what seems to be a problematic point on the lack of existence of the Papacy (as it would exist later) in the New Testament times as well as in post-Apostolic Christian antiquity, but also a heavy dose, albeit smaller, of 𝑎ℎ𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑠𝑚 to Orthodoxy’s doctrine of conciliar infallibility and her more recent ecclesiology which excludes any notion of a divinely instituted Petrine government fixed from Rome as a sine qua non for producing infallible doctrine in Councils. Now, Sullivan indeed thinks these things were organic developments, but Eastern Orthodox thinkers can often be found denigrating the idea that her doctrines developed in this fashion and find it rather troublesome to Catholicism that the latter’s dogmatic formula arising in such a fashion. All in all, I think what we have here is another instance of a Catholic scholar who can be cited against Catholicism, but who also has a blow to swing in other unwanted directions. Lastly, the Orthodox might retort with, “Bah, Erick. The Orthodox ecclesiology is far more loose and capable of withstanding more damage because of its lack of centralization and that is doesn’t focus so much of its truth criterion to the sensitivity of one man or one bishop” (etc. etc.). But realize, the 𝑎ℎ𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑠𝑚 that Sullivan would be pointing out here still cuts across the whole of what conservative Orthodox theologians would want to be something that the Apostles and their immediate successors were conscious of. Kind of like iconodulia. Err… that is, what is claimed by scholars regarding iconodulia.

St. Gregory of Tours (538-594) on Paintings and Statuary of Jesus Christ

St. Gregory of Tours (538-594) became the bishop of Tours (France) in the year 574. As I was working through his 𝐺𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟𝑠, I came across two interesting accounts of miracles that hit upon the subject of religious art, specifically a painting and statue both depicting the Lord Jesus, and possibly some rationale for their being. Now, by way of a preliminary remark, I am not suggesting these accounts are historical evidence of the full-blown doctrine of image veneration that is espoused at the Council of Nicaea (787). Anyone who thinks that needs to read the full Acts of that Council, as well as the apologia’s for icon veneration given by St. Theodore the Studite and St. John of Damascus. These men were fully aware of people who merely defended images for their usefulness to instruct, inspire, teach, or bring to memory actions or persons from the past. These were not fully orthodox in their eyes. Nevertheless, St. Gregory here shows that in 6th century Gaul, and likely prior to him since he had many Episcopal ancestors in that region, physical artwork of Christ and the Saints was not just acceptable to have on the wall of Churches but could even be associated with miraculous interventions.

One could infer, therefore, that whatever Nicaea (787) had dogmatized, the kind of images or statuary that we see being recorded by St. Gregory as existing in both East and West, from the standpoint of 6th century Gaul, had a usage that one will probably never find in the ecclesial communities that trace their origins to the 16th-century reforms. Lastly, the scholar through whom I became acquainted this particular work of St. Gregory has noted that much of the stories and historical claims lack precise details, citation, and dating. This might call into question the reliability of what is recorded, but we can safely say that what is written in the Glory of the Martyrs stands as acceptable Christian data during St. Gregory’s time and place.

Gregory first mentions the account provided by the early Church historian Eusebius (260-339) wherein he describes the statues of Christ and the woman who had been healed of her issue with a “flow of blood”. The way in which Gregory cites this story from Eusebius shows that Gregory himself looked favorably upon the statuary depiction of Christ, who is God from God. He writes:

“𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑃𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑜𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑, 𝑎𝑠 𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑, 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐽𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑎𝑛 𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟. 𝐼𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑚, 𝑜𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝑹𝒆𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑦𝑒𝑑. 𝐴𝑠 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑖𝑡, 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆. 𝐿𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑚 𝑎𝑏𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒, 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑡𝑜 𝑞𝑢𝑜𝑡𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐸𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑏𝑖𝑢𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝐶𝑎𝑒𝑠𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑤𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒. 𝐻𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑦𝑠: ‘𝐼𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑜𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑙𝑠 𝑠𝑢𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑎 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑔𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑠 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑎𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑧𝑒𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦. 𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑛𝑜𝑤 ℎ𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑦. 𝐼𝑛 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑓 ℎ𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑝𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑙, 𝑠𝑒𝑡 𝑢𝑝 𝑜𝑛 𝑎 𝑚𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑. 𝑃𝑟𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑒𝑥ℎ𝑖𝑏𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑧𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛 ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓, 𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑓 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑒𝑡𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑠𝑢𝑝𝑝𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛. 𝑁𝑒𝑥𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒, 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒𝑤𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑧𝑒, 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑤𝑟𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑥𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑛. 𝐴𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑜𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒, 𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑡𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑙, 𝑎 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑞𝑢𝑒 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑔𝑟𝑜𝑤𝑠. 𝑊ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑑, 𝑖𝑡 𝑢𝑠𝑢𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑒𝑥𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑧𝑒 𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒. 𝑶𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒈𝒓𝒐𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒐𝒖𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒃𝒆 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒕𝒐𝒑 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒐𝒕, 𝒊𝒕 𝒂𝒃𝒔𝒐𝒓𝒃𝒔 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒐𝒃𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒔. 𝑯𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆, 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒍𝒚 𝒊𝒏𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒎𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒗𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒂 𝒔𝒊𝒑 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒎𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒕. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑡 𝑔𝑟𝑜𝑤𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜𝑢𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑧𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑒, 𝑖𝑡 𝑎𝑐𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑛𝑜 𝑝𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑆𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑐𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝐽𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑠 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑛𝑜𝑤, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠. 𝐼𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑛𝑠 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑏𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑡𝑜 𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟 𝑎 𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑟𝑡 𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑒ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑓 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑎𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑟; 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑤𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑖𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑃𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑃𝑎𝑢𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑎𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑟 ℎ𝑖𝑚𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑑𝑒𝑠𝑖𝑔𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑑.’ 𝐸𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑏𝑖𝑢𝑠 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑠.” (𝐺𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟𝑠, 20; Eng. Trans. Raymond Van Dam, 𝐺𝑟𝑒𝑔𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑇𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠: 𝐺𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟𝑠 (Liverpool Univ. Press, 1988), 40-41; cited from Latin translation of Eusebius in Rufinus’s Ecclesiastical History 8.18).

Though Eusebius himself elsewhere espouses that images of Christ are not permitted since they are forbidden by divine law, here he simply notes that the origin of the practice among Christians probably came from the Gentiles. Nevertheless, St. Gregory does not seem to think negatively about such a thing, nor pictures of the Saints. That bit where he states, “Lest this seem absurd to anyone” suggests statuary, and perhaps images, might not have been prevalent in what St. Gregory understood to be the full scope of his readership.

Next is a story, albeit with not much historical details, St. Gregory gives about a Jew who stole an image of Christ:

“𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝑪𝒉𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑠𝑢𝑐ℎ 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒂 𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑏𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑎𝑤 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑠𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑝𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑜𝑓 ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑖𝑛 𝑐ℎ𝑢𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑛 𝒗𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒕𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆𝒕𝒔. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑡𝑜𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑚𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑢𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑠 ℎ𝑖𝑚𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠. 𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎 𝐽𝑒𝑤 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑜𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑛 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑟𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑝𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑜𝑛 𝑎 𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑡𝑡𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑐ℎ𝑢𝑟𝑐ℎ, ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑: ‘𝐵𝑒ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑑𝑢𝑐𝑒𝑟, 𝑤ℎ𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑠 ℎ𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑒𝑑 𝑚𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑦 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒!’ 𝑆𝑜, 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑡 𝑛𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡, ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑑𝑎𝑔𝑔𝑒𝑟, 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑙𝑙, 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑠, 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 ℎ𝑜𝑚𝑒, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑛 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑎 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑜𝑢𝑏𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑙𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑜𝑑. 𝐹𝑜𝑟 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑓𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑑. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜 𝑜𝑏𝑠𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑟𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑛𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑎𝑟𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑢𝑑𝑦 𝑛𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑖𝑠 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒, ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑎 𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑧𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑. 𝐹𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑡 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑟𝑖𝑚𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑏𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠, ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑙 ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑙𝑒𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛 𝑜𝑏𝑠𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑡; 𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑑 ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡𝑜𝑢𝑐ℎ 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑒𝑑𝑙𝑦 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑚𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑤𝑎𝑦. 𝐴𝑡 𝑑𝑎𝑤𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐶ℎ𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑛 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑜𝑑. 𝑊ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑓𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑐𝑜𝑛, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒖𝒑𝒔𝒆𝒕 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑠𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑑 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑑. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑛𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐽𝑒𝑤. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑎𝑠𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑙 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑠𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑐𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑒𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑠𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑟𝑜𝑜𝑚 𝑏𝑒𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐽𝑒𝑤. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒏𝒆𝒍 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒄𝒉; 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑐𝑟𝑢𝑠ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑒𝑓 𝑏𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑠.” (𝐺𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟𝑠, 21; ibid)

Notice how St. Gregory describes the function of the image. He says “even now at this time” (during his day) “Christ is cherished with such love” by the means of hanging a “painted image of him in churches and houses to record his power in visible tablets.” How far is this from the theological concept of worshiping Christ through a pictorial? I suspect not very far, but one might reasonably hesitate to close it together with Nicaea (787). What purpose did the image have? It seems it was there for the purpose of engendering love and faith in Christ, through the image. Satan himself seems to have had a problem with it, let alone the forthcoming 16th-century Reformers. And notice how St. Gregory roots it in the “eternal enemy of the human race” which animated the Jew who then physically stabbed the image, which is intended as an attack on the person (hypostasis) of the Lord. The full act of stabbing the image and then preparing it for burning was not simply of the physical painting, but an attempt to insult the person of Christ. It stands to reason that the Christians who loved the image and had it hung up were not seeking to worship the physicality of the picture, but the eternal logos through the image.

One last story which is more puzzling than it is illuminating. St. Gregory recounts:

“𝐴𝑡 𝑁𝑎𝑟𝑏𝑜𝑛𝑛𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑖𝑝𝑎𝑙 𝑐𝑎𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑟𝑒𝑗𝑜𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 [𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒] 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟 𝑆𝑡. 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑖𝑢𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑎 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑤𝑠 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠, 𝑔𝑖𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑛 [𝑙𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ]. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑜𝑏𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑎 𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑖𝑓𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝐵𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑢𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑣𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑: ‘𝐴𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑣𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑚𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑤𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑛𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑑. 𝐶𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑤, 𝑎𝑠 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑙𝑦 𝑎𝑠 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑚𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛!’ 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑑𝑎𝑦 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑙. 𝐴𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑖𝑚; 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑡. 𝑇ℎ𝑟𝑒𝑒 𝑑𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑑 𝑣𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑛 [𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛] 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑢𝑐𝑘 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑣𝑦 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑: ‘𝐷𝑖𝑑 𝐼 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑚𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛, 𝑠𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑛𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑑? 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑛𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑑𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑏𝑦 𝑦𝑜𝑢. 𝐶𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑤, ‘ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑, ‘ 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑛 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑐ℎ 𝐼 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠; 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑤𝑖𝑠𝑒 𝑎 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑐𝑘 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑦𝑜𝑢.’ 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑢𝑝𝑠𝑒𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑎𝑓𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑑, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑣𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑖𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑝, 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑖𝑚𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 ℎ𝑢𝑛𝑔 𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 [𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒]. 𝐴𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒 𝑖𝑠 𝑛𝑜𝑤 𝑜𝑛 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑦 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑦. 𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑖𝑓 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑓𝑙𝑦 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑣𝑖𝑒𝑤𝑖𝑛𝑔, 𝑠𝑜𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛, 𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑢𝑛𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑.”(𝐺𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑦𝑟𝑠, 22; ibid.).

We can see that this account, if true, testifies to images of Christ crucified hung for all the worshipers to see in the church of Narbonne, but divine intervention came about to prevent the amount of nakedness that was in the painting of Christ, who wore a simple loincloth. Instead of the miraculous intervention requiring the removal of the image, it was altered with a curtain to cover it, and viewings were still permitted.