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Nov / Dec 2015

The Renaissance

SIR THOMAS MORE: Something must be done about the corrupt Church. It needs reform. ERASMUS: I agree. It is not holy enough. MARTIN LUTHER: Yo! Check out my 95 Thesis about why the Church sucks! HENRY VIII: HERETIC! BUFFOON! YOUR ARGUMENTS ARE INVALID BECAUSE OF YOUR FACE! LUTHER: I’ve never known a ‘king’ to simper and whimper like a strumpet in a tantrum before! KATHARINE OF ARAGON: HEY! HENRY: More, do something about this insolent fool! Blast him with language as profane as his own! MORE: … thou art a dog, sir! A contemptible dog! Though not even the dogs shall lick your blood from the cobblestones after your death, your stench be so foul! LUTHER: LOL

ERASMUS: Now boys, I’m sure we can all get along. LUTHER: I’ve finished more pamphlets. My thesis was just me getting warmed up! Now I’m attacking your beloved saints and sacraments! POPE: HOW DARE YOU, SIR. I will excommunicate you if you do not desist forthwith! LUTHER: You have no authority over me. Only God has authority over me! Thou art a bag full of wind! KATHARINE: That’s it. Charles, you must do something about this at once! He is attacking the sacrament of marriage and you know how important marriage is to us—err, me. CHARLES V: Why is it my problem? KATHARINE: You are Holy Roman Emperor! Martin Luther is in your jurisdiction! Shut him up! CHARLES: I would like to, but no one can find him.

HENRY: Looks like the printers can find him easily enough! He’s just published an attack against me as long as my magnificent, muscular arm! (Have you ever seen such a handsome arm as mine? Surely King Francis has not an arm as great as this!) … I am offended, sir! King Francis, are we not offended by this? FRANCIS OF FRANCE: I don’t care, and your arm is as fat as your head. LUTHER: I’m nearly done with my German Bible. Thank you for your excommunication papal bull, Holiness. It kept my hands warm upon a long night as it burned in my hearth! POPE: THAT’S IT, SOMEONE NEEDS TO FIND AND KILL THAT LITTLE MONK. MORE: I’m working on a refuting of his argument that will be longer than any other book in the history of refutations, and it will contain a great many insults too! Can’t we at least wait to kill him until after he’s read it?!? ERASMUS: I think if we sit down

and talk to one another, we can— LUTHER: Pope is the antichrist. ERASMUS: Never mind. KATHARINA VON BORA: What’s this I hear about us not needing popes and stuff? I’ve been bored in this convent for years… can I just leave? LUTHER: Why not? Go forth and populate the earth with heretics! Life is simply not worth living unless you’re hated by every monarch, priest, bishop, and saint in Europe. KATHARINA: Sounds good. I agree. Life is too short not to have what you want. Let’s get married.

AM? NOT IN ROME!! DO YOU KNOW WHERE MY STUFF IS? SMASHED. I’M NOT HAPPY. HENRY: Neither am I! How am I supposed to get my annulment from the Pope if he’s a prisoner of my (soon to be non) wife’s nephew? KATHARINE OF ARAGON: =) MORE: What annulment?!? HENRY: I WANT A DIVORCE. MORE: DON’T DO IT. LUTHER: DON’T DO IT. CHARLES: DON’T DO IT. ANNE BOLEYN: DO IT.

LUTHER: Wait, what? HENRY: WHAT? POPE: WHAT??? MORE: WHAAT?? WILLIAM TYNDALE: Would now be a good time to mention I’ve finished an English translation of the Bible? No? Okay. I’ll just sneak it in then. HENRY : Charles, what have I told you about doing something about your German printers! They keep sneaking Luther’s tracts and now English Bibles into England! Can’t you control your armies? CHARLES: I’m a bit busy right now with the Peasant’s Revolt. LUTHER: Peasants should know their place. You’re the emperor, put them back in line! CHARLES: I would but I just lost control of my army. POPE: I noticed. They just sacked Rome! DO YOU KNOW WHERE I

ERASMUS: Can’t you just have two or three wives instead? Seems fair. KATHARINE: I’m the one who gave $$ to educate the English scholars. Like they’re going to turn on me? You’re going to lose, Henry! HENRY: I WON’T!! I’M KING!! ANNE: Henry, don’t argue with your not-wife. You know damn well she’s smarter than you. HENRY: I love you, peaches. ANNE: I love you too, sweetums. KATHARINE: You make me sick. HENRY: I’ll dissolve the Church and create my own where I can divorce you and marry Anne! And we’ll see how you like that! I’ll show you smarter! MORE: Bad idea. KATHARINE OF ARAGON: :’( HENRY: =D =D =D ♥

IN THIS ISSUE: Raphael Page 4 Mary I Page 8 Ever After Page 10 Elizabeth I Page 12 Michelangelo Page 14 Katharine von Bora Page 16 William Shakespeare Page 18 Art & Religion Page 20 Coming Soon: Classic Hollywood Faith & Martyrs … and more! © Charity’s Place. No copyright infringement intended. All written content is original and may not be reproduced without consent. Disclaimer: the opinions of the individual writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Charity’s Place or Femnista; the stories and entertainment mentioned is not always appropriate viewing for all ages. Visit for future issues, information, movie reviews, and more. 3

Deposition of Christ, 1507


aphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino) was one of the great old masters of painting during the renaissance along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. He was born in 1483 in Urbino, Marches in Italy to an influential father that was a court painter. This allowed Raphael a certain privilege that not everyone experienced. His mother died when he was eight and his father eventually remarried but died when he was eleven. Raphael's stepmother and uncle Bartolomeo, whom was a priest, took care of him as he grew up. He didn't have any siblings as a result of his parents’ early death. Raphael was shown how to paint by his father and was able to get an early start in life as a painter. Even though his father died when he was young, the position he had held while he was alive let young Raphael be around courtiers and receive an education in court manners, literature, and the arts. In Raphael's time an artist needed to apprentice in a master artist's workshop for years to

learn art. Afterward they would attempt to create their own works of art and if their artist’s guild approved, they could open their own professional workshop.

master it meant you were fully trained, could create masterpieces, and take on assistants / apprentices. During the renaissance, a person had to go through all these steps to become an artist. Most people that succeeded were men, and very few women were allowed to apprentice. Raphael began his apprenticeship at seventeen under Pietro Perugino which lasted about four years according to one source, while another says he was fully qualified in 1501. Some of the details of his life remain vague.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1507

During the renaissance, artists guilds (a professional association of artists) could make or break an artist’s career. Only if the guild in your region recognized you as a master artist could you proceed. Once you were called a

Nonetheless Raphael was heavily influenced by Perugino early in his career and later on by Michelangelo and Leonardo. Raphael often traveled and created paintings of Madonnas (“my lady”) and other portraits. In 1508 he was called by Pope Julius II to court in 5

The School of Athens, 1511

Rome and he chose to live there for the rest of his life. An architect, Donato Bramante, sneaked Raphael into the Sistine Chapel where he was given a private view of the ceiling. Julius II preferred Raphael and let him paint a portrait of Michelangelo in The School of Athens frescoe inside the Sistine Chapel in Michelangelo's style (the artist in purple and red at lower center). Though they may have been rivals, Raphael was still in awe of him. He was also hired to complete four “Raphael Rooms.” Unfortunately he died before he saw their completion and his assistants from his workshop had to finish them. Raphael was commissioned to

create other great works of art during his career. He actually produced a lot of work during his short life and had one of the largest work-shops during the renaissance, which was very unusual at the time. Raphael died on April 6, 1520. He never married nor produced any children that we know of, but to put it kindly, Raphael was known as a ladies man. The cause of his death is hotly debated but basically he had an acute illness. Many people don't realize that art during the renaissance was a very political field. Many of us in the present day understand art is about creativity, expression, ideas and freedom. Back in the renaissance, art wasn't just about

creativity and aesthetics. Before the renaissance, the arts were considered a “trade” and artists weren't seen as any different from a local stonemason. This idea changed during the renaissance, when art became far more respected and celebrated for its mythologies and beauty alongside the advancements in humanism (the strong pursuit of knowledge) and learning. Eventually art was used to make certain religious and political views. Churches hired artists to drive the importance of religious leaders such as the pope and to reinforce the power of God, the divinity and sacrifice of Jesus , and any other ideas that a patron or church wanted to reinforce.


MICHAELANGELO (1475-1564): “The Creation of Adam”

Artists also had to paint exactly what they were commissioned to paint; they couldn't just paint whatever they wanted, because the way that artists survived back then were through commissions by the wealthy and churches. Commissions by churches and wealthy families were coveted positions. It was very challenging to get hired and an artist had to have a lot of talent and influence to accomplish it. The great masters didn't really get along and considered each other rivals. Michelangelo and Leonardo said rude things about each other and although Raphael admired and copied Michelangelo, they didn't get along either. Nonetheless, each master painter left his own impact in history

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519): “Annunciation”

Though Raphael had connections because of his father, it is due to his creativity, diligence, and talent that he became one of the greatest painters that ever lived. Connections can open a door but they can't build an entire career; connections can't buy talent nor tenacity. As a Christian, I see our creativity as a reflection that we are created in the image of God. We desire to create because He creates. This is proven in the Bible when God gifts people with artistic talents (Exodus 31: 1-6 and Exodus 35:35). ♥

SANDRO BOTICELLI (1446-1510): “Allegory of Spring”



ow much of history can we trust? Asking that question leads to a disquieting silence, because if we begin to question established history, it unravels. The truth is, we can accept nothing and must question the motives and sources for everything that is established as fact. In doing that, we find the “facts” less factual than we might have thought, and that history is often defined not by the reality, but the perceptions and biases of those who recorded it. This is never truer than in the case of Mary Tudor. Though her sister and father had many more executions during their reigns, it is she who has become known as “Bloody.” Her father’s death toll estimates at 74,000, including cousins, wives, trusted advisors, politicians, friends, governesses to the royal children, and clergy. A large portion of that number comes from the Pilgrimage of Grace, where a great many loyal Catholic subjects rebelled against the oppressive new Reformist regimes that destroyed their Churches and forbid them from practicing their faith. Henry VIII is the true “bloody” tyrant, but Mary is given the title for the 284 Reformists burned at the stake during her reign, if you go by the numbers in The Book of Martyrs first published in 1563.

The author, John Foxe was a Reformist; his intention was to draw attention to the lives of the martyrs and discredit and vilify Catholics. The book was widely read by the Puritans, and helped mold public opinion in negative ways toward Catholic monarchs, which was helpful in dissuading the public from trying to place a Catholic usurper (Mary Queen of Scots) on the throne. The stories were reinforced over time, while Reformist historians swept the bloody, barbaric actions of Reformist monarchs under the rug. What better way to stay in power than define the opposition as a bloody tyrant? Mary’s reputation started with a bias, continued with an agenda, and despite its questionable and biased origins, is still propagated as fact, which means we must ask the reason why? What purpose other than continued prejudice against her faith causes us to care more about those martyred under her reign than that of any other British monarch in history? All we know about Mary’s reign and how the populace responded is propaganda; we can’t trust it. Doubts about the reliability of Foxe’s statistics are based in the statements he produces as “facts” refuted by his contemporaries (certain nasty stories about Sir

Thomas More are based in slander from the period, and More refuted them violently, denying that he tortured people for information; he did put them in the stocks, but did not “flog Reformists” in his garden—he had a man flogged for flipping women’s skirts up over their heads during Church prayers). Fox is unreliable, but a defense was made for him in the 1930’s by Historian J.F. Mozley, who doubted that one could “invent” the stories in Book of Martyrs. Considering his agenda (he was openly, unapologetically biased toward the Reformists), can we trust him to have researched this without a foregone conclusion? The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 by Eamon Duffy mostly focuses on the beliefs of the period, but contains a whole chapter on Mary challenging our ideas of her reign. It asserts that England did not yield to Reform; Henry’s break from the Catholic Church was seen by the populace as a means of obtaining a divorce from a beloved queen, and when Mary took the throne, despite her assertion that she would not outlaw Lutheranism, many Churches voluntarily reinstated their Latin Mass and original prayer books and teachings, to general public satisfaction,

because the populace had never truly abandoned their traditional roots. The Marian regime came up with a long-term plan to gradually reinstate Catholicism, and incorporate Reform in the publication of an English Bible and new liturgies. Duffy states the burnings, while deplorable, were “accomplishing what the Marian regime” intended to do, and that was bring order. The fires were “slacking off” toward the end of her reign and may have soon ceased completely. It does not justify the actions of her government, but it does raise the question of if Mary had not died so young, whether history would have seen her in a far different light (without Reformist bias) once she reformed the Church. In Foxe’s Reformist eyes, Mary was a loathed Papist murderer. His prejudices have carried on into modern times, reinforced by ongoing distrust and hatred for Catholics generated during the English Reformation. In Duffy’s eyes, as a self-confessed “cradle Catholic,” she is neither saint nor monster, but overshadowed by the burnings of the period, which prejudice the reader and make them less inclined to see her as a well-intentioned but misguided advocate for a different brand of religious reform in England that, had it been allowed to continue, might have been successful. Both men are biased, but together they present a complex woman about whom, tragically, the entire truth will never be known.

States, have gone a long way in the unfair vilification of Mary; her representation as a brutal and unpopular ruler during her reign (instead of cast that way after her death) is reinforced by cultural depictions of Mary that show her in a negative light while casting Elizabeth in a favorable one. Much emphasis is placed on Elizabeth’s virtues, reminding us of her long, prosperous, popular reign, her feminist ideals, and her victories against the Spanish Armada, while showing us a nation terrorized by the Catholic Mary, who burns “heretics” every day and “sleeps with a sword under her pillow,” she is so afraid of the populace that despises her. Bias toward Elizabeth is also reflected in the greater emphasis on her parents over Mary’s, and how their mothers are portrayed.

company of the period’s greatest intellectuals. Though devout, she loved art, literature, and music; her court was known for dancing, pageants, and entertainment. Her love story with Henry is as romantic and tragic as that of Henry and Anne Boleyn… so why has it never entirely been told? Favoritism toward Elizabeth, her mother, and Reform, and bias against Mary, her mother, and Catholicism is obvious… my question is, now that we are aware of it, when will it end? ♥

The “love affair” of Henry and Anne Boleyn has been told many times, and with only a few exceptions the story begins when Anne first catches his eye. She is young, pretty, opinionated, and feisty; his Catholic wife, Katharine of Aragon, is dowdy, boring and old, and he had to marry her against his will. In truth, Katharine was immensely popular, wore a constant smile, and kept the

Reformist influences in England and by extension, in the United 9



he summer before I left for college, my three friends and I went to see Ever After, the last movie we ever saw together in a theater. After that summer, we were never all four together again. Life took us our separate ways, and I've lost all contact with one of those girlhood friends, though I see the other two once or twice a year . But at the very end of July, 1998, we were still friends, four girls who had yet to fall in love with anyone, who enjoyed fairy tales, who wanted to wear Drew Barrymore's butterfly dress and lose ourselves in a sparkling whirl of imagination. It was a rare occurrence, all four of us loving the same movie, but

Ever After had characters and themes we could all appreciate. It's 2015 now. I've been married for over a decade; I have three children; I'm living my own happily-ever-after. And I still love this movie. However, my reasons for loving it have changed a bit over the years. Initially, I loved getting lost in the triumphant story of how a patient, hard-working, intelligent girl is rewarded with love and honor. It's what I love about every retelling of the Cinderella story, and I do still like it for those reasons. Now, however, I'm also drawn to Ever After for the creative way it goes about spinning the familiar tale in new ways.

Having spent many years studying how to effectively tell a story, I am fascinated by the way it still manages to be recognizable as the Cinderella story despite changing the time period, setting, character details, and so on. By setting Ever After solidly in Renaissance France, the filmmakers are able to keep many of the physical trappings of a fairy tale: beautiful dresses, royalty, coaches and horses and country estates. But they can also update the sensibilities of the characters. An educated, intelligent, argumentative, outspoken woman like Danielle (Drew Barrymore) would feel out of place in the more medieval setting that typical fairy tales use.

But in the Renaissance, when everything in the known world was changing, when everyone was fascinated with knowledge and learning -- such a woman fits quite nicely there. And then there's Prince Henry (Dougray Scott). He's also intelligent, an emerging intellectual, and initially more interested in discussing abstract concepts of love than in finding a wife. Still charming, but not exactly the easilyenamored type who will fall in love with a stranger the minute she steps into the ballroom in a pretty dress. Which leads to one of the things I like best about Ever After: no love at first sight. Call me unromantic, or boring, or overly modern, but I am not a fan of the idea of "love at first sight." Attraction at first sight? Sure. Lust at first sight? Sure. But love? Nope. Love is deeper than just emotions and pheromones. Those can bring together two people who then fall in real love, absolutely. Which is what happens here. The prince encounters a pretty woman embroiled in a vehement argument. He's attracted to her, yes. But more than that, he's

interested in her. She's unusual, spouting philosophy and economics instead of twittering about feelings and fashion. And so he pursues her not because he is already in love with her, but because he wants to understand her, to get to know her. And by doing those two things, he then begins to fall in love with her. Danielle is attracted to Prince Henry physically as well, but she

likes him more because he takes her seriously than because she appreciates his appearance or rank. She isn't out to snag a prince, or out to have a good time at a fancy party -- she wants to get to know and understand him too. There's just that one pesky problem of her being a common servant and him being a prince. Who better to solve such a problem than the ultimate Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey). Having such a famous artist, inventor,

and intellectual in a fairy tale might seem incongruous at first, but it works beautifully here. In fact, he's what ties the updated characters and setting together with the traditional story so well. He embodies all the new, marvelous ideas and pursuits of the Renaissance, and can bring art, science, and philosophy very naturally into the story. Without him, such topics might seem like convenient plot devices, not organic parts of the world, but with Leonardo da Vinci on hand, they make complete sense in the story. And with his help, Danielle and Prince Henry can find their happilyever-after as well. I might not have a great desire to wear body glitter and fairy wings anymore, but my desire for a good story well told has not diminished. I know I'll be enjoying and learning from Ever After for years to come. ♥ FUN FACT: This story is set in an “alternate history” of the period. Utopia was published in 1516. Leonardo Da Vinci died in 1519. King Francis’ son Henry (born in 1519) married Catherine de’Medici. Charles, the Spanish monarch, was in his 20’s and unmarried. And the queen says “divorce is only something they do in England” a full decade ahead of Henry VIII’s divorce. 11


t is well known by now that the term "renaissance" translates to "rebirth" and it is fitting that the word is now used to refer to the period in Europe from the 14th to the 17th centuries which saw a flourishing of ideas and culture. Though the concept of a rebirth was supposed to bring to mind the advances of the ancient period, the Renaissance progressed society in at least one way that was quite new—women in positions of power. Women had been the daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives of rulers before this era and often acted as regent for underage sons who would be future monarchs but it was during the Renaissance that the idea of a woman in charge in her own right would be set as a historical precedent. Near the end of the Renaissance, England's Queen Elizabeth I would become history's most significant examples of a powerful female ruler.


The circumstances of Elizabeth's birth and

later ascendance to the throne are obviously just as well known as her reign itself. Her father was Henry VIII whose love life made him notorious. He was singleminded in his pursuit of a male heir, so much so that he broke with the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn who would give birth to Elizabeth. Anne would be beheaded before Elizabeth's third birthday. Though she was a King's daughter, Elizabeth actually assuming the crown was a distant possibility due to the fact that Henry had a daughter from his first marriage, Mary, and a son from his third marriage to Jane Seymour, Edward. After Henry's passing, the sickly Edward died as well. Though Edward named a distant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, his successor, she was deposed. Mary was only shortly on the throne until her own death. Elizabeth was now queen as the only Tudor heir left. Elizabeth I assumed the crown at the age of 25 and reigned for nearly 45 years. Perhaps the most important fact about her time as a monarch is the fact that she never married or had children. She kept all the power she wielded in her own hands until she died; she seemed to know that in a patriarchal world, any husband she took would become the ruler instead of her. Her reign has also been called "the Golden Age" and the reason

why is what firmly sets it as a part of the Renaissance. In the military arena, England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 ranks as one of the best victories in the country's history and its maritime dominance under explorers like Francis Drake was well established. Drama in England reached a staggering peak as well, with the Bard himself, William Shakespeare,

and also Christopher Marlowe working during this time. In terms of screen time in film and television, Elizabeth I gets a vast share. The year 1998 was a particular high point with regards to this; it saw the release of two films in which her character was a significant part. Elizabeth is a sumptuous production covering her coming to the throne and early years of

her reign. Though historically inaccurate, the drama is deliciously presented. After initial setbacks, the audience sees a consolidation of power for the new Queen play out that rivals those in organized crime stories like The Godfather. Cate Blanchett plays Elizabeth and her performance is stunning. The other film is Shakespeare in Love and an aging Queen takes a small but commanding role in the narrative. Played by Dame Judi Dench, Elizabeth is on screen for less than 10 minutes but viewers sense her imperiousness, mischievousness, and love for art. The quality of both productions cannot be overstated: Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for Best Picture that year and both ladies were nominated for Oscars in their respective categories, with Dench winning in hers. Queen Elizabeth I remains one of the most powerful women of the past, and is a true Renaissance queen, reigning near the end of that period and being an unshakable part of the growth of culture that defines that time. Other women wielded power during the Renaissance, such as Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine de Medici, and England has had Queen Victoria and the current Elizabeth II on the throne since, but in the scope of history Elizabeth I still rules. ♼



“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” — Michelangelo


he Agony and the Ecstasy (1961) is a biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti and his troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II, written by American author Irving Stone. Stone lived in Italy for years, visiting many of the locations in Rome and Florence, worked in marble quarries, and apprenticed himself to a marble sculptor. A primary source for the novel is Michelangelo’s correspondence, all 495 letters of which Stone had translated from Italian by Charles Speroni and published in 1962 as I, Michelangelo, Sculptor. Part of Stone’s novel was adapted to historical drama in a film by the same name in 1965, starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II. When the pope commissions Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the artist initially refuses. Virtually forced to do the job by Julius, he later destroys his own work and flees to Rome. He evades the pope’s guard and flees into the mountains, where he becomes inspired. Eventually resumed,

the project becomes a battle of wills fueled by artistic and temperamental differences that form the core of this movie. The Agony and the Ecstasy is ultimately an intimate film about an epic work. Heston and Harrison are excellent, and the process of creating a masterpiece is fascinating. Alex North’s score gives heart and humanity to divine inspiration. The film was nominated for an Oscar in Cinematography and named one of the year’s best films by the National Board of Review. Michelangelo “sketched his roughhewn young contandino just in from the fields, naked except for his brache, kneeling to take off his clodhoppers; the flesh tones a sunburned amber, the figure clumsy, with graceless bumpkin muscles; but the face transfused with light as the young lad gazed up at John. Behind him he did two whitebearded assistants to John, with beauty in their faces and a rugged power in their figures. He experimented with flesh tones from his paint pots, enjoyed this culminating

Unknown believed portrait of Michelangelo

“Pope Julius II” by Raphael

physical effort of bringing his figures to life, clothing them in

warm-colored lemon-yellow and rose robes.” Raphael: For what is an artist in this world but a servant, a lackey for the rich and powerful? Before we even begin to work, to feed this craving of ours, we must find a patron, a rich man of affairs, or a merchant, or a prince or... a Pope. We must bow, fawn, kiss hands to be able to do the things we must do or die. We are harlots always peddling beauty at the doorsteps of the mighty.

plowmen.’ ” Michelangelo, familiar with both carvings, tells Ghirlandaio that he, “preferred Donatello’s plowman to Brunelleschi’s ethereal Christ, which was so slight that it looked as though it had been created to be crucified. With Donatello’s figure the crucifixion had come as a horrifying surprise…” On a battlefield, Michelangelo convinces the Pope to change the

Michelangelo: If it comes to that, I won't be an artist. Raphael: [scoffs] You’ll always be an artist. You have no choice. After Ghirlandaio looks at Michelangelo’s sketches of Christ drawn with a stonemason as the model, he tells Michelangelo the story of Donatello showing his newly carved crucifix to Brunelleschi, who observes that it seems to him Donatello has, “put a plowman on the cross, rather than the body of Jesus Christ, which was most delicate in all its parts.” Donatello, upset by his friend’s criticism, challenges Brunelleschi to make Christ’s figure himself. When Brunelleschi presents his own, newly finished crucifix, “Donatello, who could not take his eyes off the beautiful Christ, answered, ‘It is your work to make Christs, and mine to make

grand design and paint not just the panels of the ceiling, but the entire vault. The work proceeds nonstop, even with mass in session. Months turn to years. Michelangelo is accused of blasphemy and heresy by portraying Pagan symbols and myths but is allowed to continue. Buonarroti suffers from blindness as a result of paint poisoning and fatigue from overwork. While recovering, the Pope’s architect Donato Bramante pressures the Pope to use Raphael to finish the ceiling. But Michelangelo garners the strength to continue. Meanwhile,

the Pope’s army is threatened by French and German forces, and cardinals recommend fleeing Rome to safer territory. The painting scaffolds are torn down, and the commission is given to Raphael. Insulted and beaten, Michelangelo packs for Florence. Raphael, impressed with the work done, pleads with Buonarroti to finish his work. Contessina de’Medici, a former lover, convinces Buonarroti to beg the Pope for the commission again. A battle-bruised Pope is convinced a sacking of Rome is in order, but gives permission to continue painting. Late at night in Rome, a war-torn and ailing Pope criticizes the images of God and Man (in The Creation of Adam), claiming they are too serene. The Pope becomes bedridden, and denies a request to stop painting the chapel ceiling. The conclusion is a Mass where the congregation is shown the completed ceiling. After the congregation leaves, the Pope offers Michelangelo work on painting the lower walls, but seeing his own life fading, the Pope rescinds and asks him to complete the tomb. As Michelangelo once said: “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” ♥ 15



ehind every great man is a great woman. Often enough these ladies go unnoticed or are forgotten. But even the smallest contributions leave their mark. Katharine von Bora was born in 1499 and in all likelihood lost her parents at a young age. She was sent to the monastery, first for education, but then later became a nun. Years passed. Whispers of a new reformation reached even the convent she was interned at. Six miles away, Martin Luther was preaching to the common man straight from the Bible. Katharine was one of the nuns who soon came to believe that forgiveness, grace and salvation could only come directly from God. Soon she and nine other nuns no longer felt the call to serve God in a convent. They felt led to serve Him in a different capacity. Upon delivering a message to Martin Luther himself, he arranged for a rescue wagon to be sent to the convent. The nine former-nuns huddled down in a wagon carrying barrels of herrings and managed to escape unnoticed. They were finally free to live their own lives. Luther placed them in families and went as far as arranging marriages for the majority of them. Except for Katharine.

None of her suitors… well, none of her suitors suited her. She teased Luther that she was only interested in marrying him. He had been toying with the notion of matrimony as of late. When he went to visit Katharine, he would refer to her as “my Katy.” There may not have been a grand, passionate romance between them in the beginning, but there was something there. Accepting his offer of marriage, Luther and Katharine were wed. Luther was 42 and Katharine was 26. Life was not to be easy for the Luthers. While Martin Luther was a famous reformer, in the eyes of many he was an infamous heretic. From opposing forces, together they faced the threat of death every day. Since she had never been taught in the convent,

Katharine had to learn how to run a proper household. She became a living Proverbs 31 wife. On top of that, she had to be the encourager and the strong one for a temperamental man prone to depressions and eccentricities. Somehow they balanced each other out. He liberated Katharine from a life of service and showed her there was another way to live. Half-teasing and halfrespectful, Luther called her “my lord Katy.” They had six children, one of which died young. Through all of life’s challenges, the opposition and dark times, they were able to keep faith in the Lord. Their union was considered a fine example of how a Christian marriage should operate, one complementing the other. Their

lives together continued on for 21 more years. Then in February of 1546, on a trip to his birthplace to settle a dispute, Luther fell ill and died before Katharine could be brought to him. Her husband, friend and helpmate was gone. Having to flee their farm due to war and heavy taxes, the remainder of her days were spent in poverty; she and the children were supported through the generosity of others. In 1552, when another outbreak of the Black Plague struck, she was forced to leave the city of Wittenberg. Katharine was involved in an accident at the city gates. Having

been thrown from a wagon and into a body of icy water, she was carried out, her body covered in bruises. Her health never recovered. On her deathbed three months later, she was purported to say, “I will cleave to my Lord Christ as the burr to the cloth.” From the casual observer, it may seem that Katharine had very little influence on the world. Most of what we do know of her comes from Martin Luther himself. Even so, she had the heart and ear of the man who led the Protestant Reformation. ♥




ramatist Ben Jonson once praised William Shakespeare in a poem, declaring that he “was not of an age, but for all time!” Indeed William Shakespeare, the playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon who lived from c1560s to 1616, very much embodied the burst of creativity and art that came out of England during the sixteenth century. Having written over thirty six plays and numerous poems and sonnets, his works not only encapsulated the fervour of the English Renaissance but have also endured the test of time. The staying power of his works and continued prevalence in today’s culture— from English studied to theatre and popular culture—lies in several factors. There is of course its contribution to the English language. Despite of the obvious difference in usage from today’s English and the style that it is

written in, Shakespeare’s usage of the language has, in some ways, solidified its place in the language as a whole. He even created words that have found

places in contemporary English such as “lacklustre”, “frugal”, and “star-crossed.” Additionally, he coined a number of phrases and expressions that continue to be

uttered to this very day, through popular culture, parody, or everyday dialogue: “To be or not to be”, “My kingdom for a horse”, “All the world’s a stage”, and “What’s done is done” just to name a few. Shakespeare’s works continue to be a source of study in that it crosses boundaries and classes. The characters that inhabit his works come from a broad spectrum of society: his characters were members of royalty, well-off merchants, foot soldiers, holy men and women, and peddlers. His works comment on a wide range of issues, from carrying out the law (Measure for Measure) to religious discrimination (The Merchant of Venice) and divine right (Richard II) to filial love and obedience (King Lear). His works of course reflected much of the times he lived in, such as Elizabethan politics (Julius Caesar), recent history (Richard II) and

incorporating Scottish politics and lore (Macbeth), but the issues he presented continue to resonate today as our societies continue to struggle against discrimination, poverty, and war and confront moments of conflict, anger, and mercy. Whether it is Hamlet contemplating life and death or Viola pleading her case for the strengths and constancy of women or Shylock listing out the injustices made against him, Shakespeare’s plays provides an earnest grasp of a situation, leaving his characters and the audience to come to their own conclusions and opinions. What is also very compelling about Shakespeare and why he continues to endure despite of the times is the fact that his stories and the themes he grapples with are universal and timeless: love, ambition, betrayal, guilt, pride, losing loved ones. Even when one is scratching one’s head deciphering the language and the deeper meanings (or lewd jokes) behind the dialogue, one can easily relate to what the characters are going through. His plays reveal a whole range of emotions and situations that cast light on the human condition, the dilemmas of decisionmaking, the conflict of different goals, ideas, and desires: Do you save one’s brother at the expense of your principles? Do you go against the king, God’s appointed on earth, in the name of justice and the goodwill of the people? Do you allow nature to take its course or do you seize destiny in

your hands? These individuals may have completely different life experiences from ourselves— Richard II’s Bolingbroke, Othello’s titular character, Much Ado About Nothing’s Beatrice— but we know what it’s like to fall in love, how difficult it is to make a life-altering decision, what it’s like to hold a grudge. Their emotional responses to the dilemmas they face are what enables the modern reader and viewer to connect with them over the course of their stories. In the end, despite the fact that these plays were written in a time vastly different from our own and written in a way that is different from modern plays,

Shakespeare’s works continue to endure and continue to be performed in our day and age. His work, inspired from other sources, have gone on and inspired many playwrights, artists, and novelists after him. His works resonate because of the story arcs that the characters undergo, connecting the modern audiences to their experiences despite the time gap. They also resonate because despite the difference in life and times, some things have not changed: war, sickness, love, hate, guilt—the human condition remains the same. That Shakespeare was able to encapsulate these feelings and emotions rightfully places him at the head of great English playwrights to emerge in the English Renaissance. ♥



The Renaissance Catholic Church


pon the arrival of Katharine of Aragon to the great city of London, as she progressed through the streets at the side of a child Henry Tudor, she saw a number of pageants at each point blending the virtues of faith with chivalry and symbolism of the period. Her arrival was such a lavish event that her mother expressed some concern that “too much expense” had been made, in “honoring” a humble daughter of Spain. But pageants, tournaments, and suchlike were a popular form of entertainment, for nobility and peasants alike.

Thousands flocked to observe them and just as many made annual pilgrimages to shrines and churches across Europe, observing religious imagery and symbolism along the way (the pilgrimage being representative of our journey from salvation onwards). And once Katharine reached the palace, there she found hundreds of tapestries illustrating Biblical events for her continual study and pleasure. Modern audiences are familiar with religious symbolism presented in allegorical form in Pilgrim’s Progress, which takes

Sack of Rome, by Francisco Javier Amérigo Aparicio, 1884

the metaphorical journey of life, salvation, death, repentance, and the divine and transforms it into a literal journey through which the characters mature and grow, some reaching their end through martyrdom before the others, who must take the harder, slower path. In the middle ages, this kind of spiritual pageantry and artistic expression was common, not merely in events but in the art of the churches themselves. A peasant might, on a good year, observe a number of staged events in which virtues and vices were portrayed as characters, illustrating the need for salvation and repentance. In their local church, they would encounter a number of carvings, paintings, and other artwork outlining the seven deadly sins or bringing to life pertinent spiritual passages. Above the altar might be the Stations of the Cross (significant

moments in Christ’s journey) in stained glass; or it might be the apostles, surrounding the Virgin and Her Holy Child. Martyrs and saints would be honored through remembrance as a reminder that martyrdom is for a cause greater than oneself and is a holy and divine choosing. As the printing press came into full use, Biblical paraphrases and rewritten Bible stories, famous sermons, loose translations of scripture, 10 Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and essential doctrinal teachings were made available as pamphlets, along with scholarly works from the great philosophers and thinkers of the period. Though the Medieval Catholic Church brought on Reformation through its refusal to debate doctrine with Martin Luther, it also employed hundreds of thousands of artisans throughout the middle ages and renaissance in the continual building and beautification of churches across Europe. Faith was so entwined with beliefs of the time that they were inseparable in the minds of many; those who renounced Catholicism also sadly inevitably renounced art, a practice which lasted for centuries and is still obvious in some Protestant denominations, where the Church building is devoid of anything that might be seen as “imagery to be worshipped.” Leaving that argument aside, such imagery kept the disciples, the apostles, Christ, and other Biblical figures (and their vices, virtues, sins, and atonement)

present in the minds of laymen as well as the wealthy. What a peasant might not have in daily life, they might glimpse in the Church… for their Church was as glorious and majestic as the Church of the Kings and Queens. When Martin Luther’s teachings began to spread across Europe, famous martyr and philosopher Sir Thomas More feared the repercussions on the Church… and his fears became reality. Having demolished the Church as an icon of God’s presence on earth, and its servants as mere mortals in the minds of the masses, regard for the sanctity of the Church all but disappeared; the infamous “Sack of Rome” by the out of control (German) imperial army in 1527 leveled most of the Churches and raped and murdered thousands of people (including priests and nuns). Once Henry VIII enforced the “new” religion in England, working together with his Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, the Churches of England were all stripped of their wealth and much of their beauty, the profits going straight into the royal treasury. Irreparable damage was done to most of the Catholic Churches in England—hundred year old murals desecrated by having the faces of apostles and saints scraped off, limbs and heads chiseled or broken off of statues, and ornamentation torn off walls and altars. Anything of worth was sold for profit. Though to modern eyes, restored or intact Catholic Churches may seem “gaudy,” such destruction

of the pure divine creativity of generations of people must have grieved the heart of God. After all, we are “made in His image,” for no other creature on earth is a conscious creator of art in any form; the spider does not think how beautiful her web will be glistening with dew in the first light of dawn, nor does the zebra choose where to stand to make the most striking impact on the observer. It is humans who use their divine gifts in a multitude of ways to celebrate creation, through their own creativity— music, art in all its many forms, literature, poetry, and dance. We alone take pleasure in the beauty of God’s creation, which is much more majestic than ours. It is not God who wants to destroy art or creativity, but the forces of evil. While the Reformation had a tragic impact on art, the Catholic tradition of blending elements of faith, of transforming virtue into living entities in art, in capturing the essence of a being over its true likeness, has continued ever since in drama, literature and film. J.R.R. Tolkien famously wove his faith throughout his stories of Middle-earth, a tale in which there is no religion, for the religion itself is woven into the characters and their stories. The longstanding tradition of merging art, beauty, and the divine continue to influence artists, filmmakers, novelists, and storytellers in unique ways, as a reminder not only of the enormous impact such teachings have upon our lives, but the power of art as a storytelling technique. ♥ 21

Charity Bishop is fanatical about this time period in history and loves to bore her friends with it. Her free time is spent writing novels & movie reviews, blogging, and personality typing fictional characters on tumblr. Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog. Rachel Sexton is from Ohio and has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. She has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life. She is described as quiet and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Her hobby is editing fan videos. Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is a philologist specializing in Ancient Russian drama and theatre. She’s also a film and television critic by calling and librarian by profession. You can find her essays on her Facebook page and on Lumiere. She also blogs in English and Russian.

Jaime Donovan is a Christian and a university student. She loves to read, draw, write, and has a blog. Lianne Bernardo is a 20-something Canadian who loves history, period dramas, British TV, photography, and (European) football. She is an avid reader, from fantasy to literature to historical fiction, and extensively blogs about them on her website, When she isn't reading, she’s working on her writing projects. Her Twitter: @eclectictales.

When she's not writing, Rachel Kovaciny passes the time by reading, baking, watching movies, crocheting, blogging, and homeschooling her three children. Her least favorite activities are house-cleaning and wearing shoes, and she's been known to go to great lengths to avoid both. She blogs about books, and also has a personal blog that talks about movies and other important things.

Young people gifted with supernatural abilities for a divine purpose encounter all manner of conflict and spiritual awakening in this terrific new book series by Femnista editor Charity Bishop. A haunted assassin’s academy, a would-benun, an army of ghosts, and Napoleon Bonaparte feature in Ravenswolde Purchase at Amazon

A family curse, a band of Romani, the famous Dr. Joseph Bell, and Jack the Ripper feature in The Giftsnatcher Purchase at Amazon

A cleric with a closet full of weapons, a mysterious aunt she has never heard of, a villainous neighbor, and a cunning cat feature in Thornewicke Purchase at Amazon

A diabolical past, a possessed house, a secret organization, and the RMS Titanic feature in The Secret in Belfast Purchase at Amazon

Due to intense themes and violence, the series is recommended for ages 13+. 23


“Classic Hollywood” March/April: Keeping the Faith (Bible Stories, Martyrs, Christianity) Promised: Joan of Arc, Perpetua, Moses, Lydia, Augistine, Junia, One Night With the King, the dynamics of Peter & Paul) Suggestions: theology and significant theological figures, your favorite Biblical figures, the history of the Church, spiritual growth.

Need a suggestion? The costumes (how do they differ from reality?) Early silent screen actresses that are nearly forgotten Charlie Chaplain and how he changed Hollywood Significant early filmmakers and how they influenced art in cinema Before there were censors, and how there came to be a moral “code” The changing “fads” of Hollywood (musicals, Bible films, major epics) Historical epics and their financial impact on the studios (Cleopatra nearly bankrupted the studio) Your favorite actor and their body of work

Coming Feb 1st!

Actors, actresses, directors, and films from the early years of Hollywood. Promised: Audrey Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story, Norma Shearer, Sorry Wrong Number, The Honeymooners, Judy Garland, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. WANT TO CONTRIBUTE? Claim your topic before someone else does!

Femnista Nov Dec 2015  

Raphael, Mary I, Ever After, Elizabeth I, Michelangelo, Katharine von Bora, William Shakespeare, Art & Religion

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