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The Raising of the Cross

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This early 17th century baroque piece,The Raising of the Cross by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, is a dynamic whirlwind of emotion and energy. The central panel draws us in with its dramatic diagonal slant. The artist has Christ's body gleam, rippling with strength and power, even in this moment of supreme weakness (for "power is made perfect in weakness" as St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12). Gathered about the Savior is a host of men, equally virile, lifting the Cross high, like a flag of victory over a field where much blood has been spilled. It is the field of the world, and the fight lies within each one of us... "The 'heart' has become a battlefield between love and concupiscence" (TOB, 32:3).

The side panels show us the weeping women on the left, and on the right, Roman soldiers carrying out their duty. With the lens of the Theology of the Body, however, we see much more. The feminine panel glows with warmth, fragile beauty, and heartfelt …