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Food for Your Soul

"Madonna of the Rosary with St. Dominic and St. Catherine"

Autumn

This 19th-century, oil on canvas, copy of Sassoferrato’s painting by Turrio was a gift to the Sisters of Charity by Bishop Thomas Byrne. [Bishop Byrne was a chaplain to the Sisters of Charity and friend of many of the Sisters before being named the first bishop of Nashville, Tenn. A portrait of Bishop Byrne by Pietro Gagliardi may be found in the McCann Room.]

Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1609-1689) was born at Sassoferrato in the Marche area of Italy, where his father was his first master teacher. The artist spent most of his life in Rome, and several of his pictures are direct imitations of Perugino, Raphael and Titian. His Madonnas, especially, are inspired by Raphael, and in their sweetness rival those of Carlo Dolci. The solid formal layout of his paintings, with brilliant and almost enameled colors, characterizes his vast production of subjects of a religious nature. The public was fond of Sassoferrato’s Madonnas that were tender, lovely, carefully painted and reveal a mother’s heart. His compositions portray a pleasing air of intimacy. Besides the “Madonna of the Rosary,” the artist painted “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin” (Louvre), “Infant Jesus Asleep on His Mother’s Knee” (Muscé des Offices), “Madonna With Angels” (Vatican). Sassoferrato’s work is also on display at museums in London, St. Petersburg, Brussels and Vienna.

“Madonna of the Rosary with St. Domonic and St. Catherine” was painted in 1643 for the Church of Santa Caterina in St. Sabina, Rome. It was commissioned by Princess de Rossano. “The Virgin in a blue cloak and purple dress is seated in the center with the Infant Jesus on her left knee; kneeling to the right is St. Dominic to whom she presents the rosary, while the Divine Child with one hand extending the rosary to St. Catherine, who kneels at the left, with the other places upon her head reverently bent, the crown of thorns. Circling the head of the Virgin is a crown of five small angels of ravishing grace and devotion.” (Berthier) 

St. Dominic de Guzman (ca. 1170-1221) was the founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). His order was commissioned by the Pope to preach against the Albigensian heresy. It was during Dominic’s fight against this heresy when tradition tells us that he received the rosary from the Virgin Mary in a vision. He was told that if he taught this prayer encouraging meditation on the life of Christ, the heresy would be dispelled.  

St. Catherine of Sienna (1347-1380) was a Third Order Dominican and great proponent of reform in the Church. She was a mystic and spiritual writer and is one of four women Doctors of the Church.