VISUAL THEOLOGY


El Transparente is a Baroque altarpiece in the ambulatory of the Cathedral of Toledo. Its name refers to the unique illumination provided by a skylight in the vault above. It was created in 1729-1732 by Narciso Tomé and his 4 sons (2 architects, 1 painter and 1 sculptor). The use of light and of mixed materials (marble, bronze, paint, stucco) may reflect the influence of Bernini's Cathedra in St Peter's, Rome. Its execution was ordered by Diego de Astorga y Céspedes, Archbishop of Toledo. The Bishop wished to mark the presence of the Holy Sacrament with a glorious monument. The monument costed 200,000 ducats and motivated great enthusiasm, even with a poem wherein the monument was acclaimed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World'.[1] Cardinal Astorga y Céspedes is buried at the feet of 'El Transparente'. According to American writer James Michener's book Iberia (1968), the Transparente was installed to allow light to pass from the ambulatory behind the high altar (or 'reredos' as he calls it), onto the tabernacle (container for the Blessed Sacrament) which stayed in constant shadow because of the tall reredos. Not only was a hole cut into the top of the back thick wall of the cathedral above the ambulatory behind the high altar, but another hole was cut into the high altar itself to allow a shaft of light to come down to illuminate the tabernacle like a spotlight. After the 2 holes were cut, Tomé and sons designed a way to connect the 2 by sculpting a company of angels, saints, prophets and cardinals. A mass of angels and clouds disguises the hole that allows light through the hole in the back of the high altar. Abstract designs of robes and foliage masked the architectural piercings that were made so the hole in the back of the altar is hidden from the viewer ■

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

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