Peter Bruegel Paints Some American Bishops

One of the lesser annoyances of the past weeks of depravity and scandal was seeing the loathsome vulpine face of sexual predator Theodore McCarrick (formerly Cardinal, and hopefully soon-to-be-former “bishop” and “father”) staring back at me from endless articles about his crimes. Now that the report is out on criminal coverups in Pennsylvania, we have…

The Popish Octopus

Political cartoons are located somewhere between bonobo chimp vocalizations and bathroom graffiti on the spectrum of self-expression, and anti-Catholic cartoons are no exception. They tend to traffic in a few shopworn motifs to convey their contempt for Romish sorts, and the octopus makes regular appearances. This has the benefit of requiring no particular thought or…

Wax Souls

  These wax images are found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and show the potential destiny of the soul at death. They were created for private devotion so the Christian could meditate on the last things. The final two (Blessed and Damned) are attributed to Zumbo, who created larger wax memento mori tableaux in…

The Earliest Known Depiction of Witches On Brooms, and What It Tells Us About Evil

This marginal illustration comes from Le champion des dames (A Defense of Women) by Martin Le France, 1451. Martin was secretary to both Antipope Felix V and Pope Nicholas V. His work is a 24,000-verse (!) poem extolling the virtues of women, but also condemning heresy and corruption. The witches are identified as Vaudois, or Waldensians, who were accused of practicing witchcraft…

Memento Mori Beads

This carved ivory and silver rosary is from Germany in the the early 16th century. Each bead has a head divided between face and skull, with certain beads showing a decaying face. It’s a reminder that life is fleeting. Two of the beads form the inscription, “Remember death / This is what you will be.” Metropolitan…