Have you been called to acts of service? Did you answer the call?
Saint Francis of Paola, who lived in the 1400s, was called. Two moments of divine intercession are paired in The Vision of Saint Francis of Paola by 17th-century Spanish painter Bartolomé Estebán Murillo.
Like the kneeling saint, we behold a heavenly vision, Charitas, written in the sky and circled by a delightful band of cherubs. This was the motto of the Order of Minims, a Franciscan order founded by the saint in 1436. The heavenward gaze and pious gesture of the bearded old man express his great devotion to God. He gazes intently; he does not turn away.
We also witness a miracle later performed by the saint, who is depicted a second time in the painting. In the distance we see him in the brown robes of the Franciscans, sailing two passengers across the Straits of Messina by tying his cloak to his staff (detail shown below). He has answered God’s call to charity, devoting his life to service.
In what way have you been called to charitable service? Was that moment marked by a particular event—or vision?
Question of the Week is a series inspired by our Masterpiece of the Week tours, offered daily at 4:00 p.m. Featuring an open and upbeat discussion among visitors and gallery teachers, the tours feature a new object and pose a new question each week.