…the price of faith…. St. Denis

Last week my brother & i visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond again on the occasion of his birthday (my older brother Dean came to ‘hang out’ with the Savvy Saints : ) … while there we so enjoyed seeing 2 Rembrandts from when the artist was 18 years old (!!! such incredible Light detailed in ordinary settings, such unique talent & effervescent art that is totally BRILLIANT 400+ years later!)  But we also noticed this poor Headless Bishop on our way through the gallery:

Saint Dennis(Photo: courtesy of Dwight Woodward’s iPhone)

Saint Denis was a 3rd Century Bishop in France who was beheaded for his faith. Tradition says that after his execution he walked several kilometers carrying his head while preaching a sermon, hence the depiction in art & sculpture of him holding his head. Saint Denis is the patron saint of France.

That was a Very Long Time Ago — but many people today still pay that price for their faith.  Given our freedom of religion, ’tis hard for Americans to understand – but there are places around the globe where people are killed for their faith, where persecution makes living out the Gospel decidedly challenging… torture, loss of land, loss of jobs, imprisonment…

And we get embarrassed when people deride our ‘ashed’ foreheads at the beginning of Lent!

So, on this Lenten Thursday here’s a prayer to ponder:

“May the fiery and honey-sweet power of your love, O Lord, wean me from all things under heaven, so that I may die for love of Your love, Who deigned to die for love of my love.”   (attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

…& keep in mind ‘dying’ for love of God’s love might not necessarily mean only martyrdom like our headless Saint Denis in a physical sense, but also ‘dying to self’  – something very appropriate to contemplate during Lent…

grace, peace & faith


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4 Responses to …the price of faith…. St. Denis

  1. John Paine says:

    The VMFA is an incredible place. I remember that statue, and enjoyed the ancient artifacts, particularly a mosaic from first century Syrian Antioch. It was interesting to ponder whether Peter, Paul, Barnabas and others walked that site. There was also a very interesting Byzantine bread stamp that has gotten a lot of attention lately in connection with the discovery of Philip’s tomb (see
    http://sharedveracity.net/2012/03/11/12-apostles/). Thanks for your Lenten blitz!

    • Virginia says:

      John – forgot about that stamp! Will definitely look it up next go round(!) The museum was so crazed during our Chihuly visit we missed several other ‘special exhibits’, so this time skipped around to see them (but Dwight wants to see s.th. coming in April, so will check your recs out then, for sure!) (…& you definitely need to visit the Holy Land – everyone walked someplace everywhere there! : )

      If you get up to the VMFA anytime soon, be SURE to check out the Rembrandts. AMAZING. They are incredibly small paintings – his 1st major effort (hence the economies!) but so ‘wow.’

      Thanx for your encouragement of the “Lenten blitz” : )

      grace, peace & ARTifacts – Virginia : )

  2. Sometimes I think dying to self might be a more difficult and ongoing process than dying as a martyr for one’s faith. Nonetheless, dying to self is a necessary part of our ongoing sanctification in this world.

    • Virginia says:

      amen, Sharron – for most martyrs,life is given in an instant (ok, so sometimes after horrendous torture & prison) .. but dying to self is made by our choices – day in day out – over the ‘long haul.’ whew – guess that’s why we need so much Grace ? & Mercy? (& LOVE! to keep going when we fall, SPLAT, on our faces!) —
      grace, peace & Mercy Groupies – Virginia : )

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