Frescoes of Paul’s Ministry, Part 3: Ananias heals Saul’s Blindness

Ananias heals Saul's Blindness, Francesco Pedesti Acts 9:10-18

Ananias heals Saul’s Blindness, Francesco Pedesti, Acts 9:10-18

Acts 9:10 – 18

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.  The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,.” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.  In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.  And he has come here with the authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.  Placing his hand on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord — Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here — has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.  


Though initially this image seems calm, even static as a photograph which captures a moment of time, upon viewing the multiple geometric shapes formed by the architecture, Ananias’s and Saul’s cloaks, and the position of their hands and faces, much motion appears.  The scene appears to be set in a portico of a building, with reticular column behind Saul, a step on which Ananias stands, and an entry behind him.

Saul’s feet form the first of several right-to-left upward diagonals.  Next is the sword on which his right hand rests.  This sword may be a dual symbol of his position as a Jewish authority, and therefore the threat which Ananias questions the Lord about, and also the sword which will behead him at his martyrdom.  Saint Paul is usually depicted as holding that second sword.  The third diagonal is the line of gaze between Ananias’s eye and Saul’s blind eyes.  We are seeing the moment just before the Holy Spirit fills Saul and removes his blindness.

In contrast to this linear geometry, is the spirals formed by Ananias’s and Saul’s cloaks, and their arms.  Ananias’s golden cloak spirals from down by his feet upward toward his raised arm.  Saul’s red cloak spirals downward from his left shoulder toward his feet.  These spirals connect through their arms, with Anania’s right hand resting on Saul’s head, and Saul’s left arm reach out but just missing the edge of Ananias’s cloak.

Three witness are present in the scene.  One we see, in the form of someone behind Ananias.  The second is implied by the open end of the portico, through which we see the clouds in the heavens.  The third is a distant Roman aqueduct, just visible in the opening between Ananias’s and Saul’s arms.  Yes, at the center of this fresco, Saul’s mission to Rome is foretold.


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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