All Souls' Day,
Painting by Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884),
Painted in 1878,
Oil on canvas
© Budapest Museum of Fine arts, Hungary
Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.
Reflection on the painting
Today, on All Souls’, we pray for all the faithful departed. We pray for their souls. May God grant them rest in peace and let his light shine upon them.
But today’s feast comes down to one thing: love! We remember those friends or family members because we love them. They came into this world because of the love between two people and because of the love God bestowed upon them in the first place as he created each of our friends and family members. As Christians we also believe that this loving doesn’t stop with the grave. Our love for the people who have died continues, and God’s love for us continues unconditionally.
So today we pray for God to wrap his loving arms around the ones we love as we continue to commit them to his generous protection. Our painting titled ‘All Souls’ by French realist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage from 1882, depicts a grandfather walking with two of his young grandchildren. They are on their way to visit the grandmother's grave. The grandfather is dressed in dark clothes; the young ones in bright tonalities. They are strolling through a land which was, until recently, all open fields. But it has now been transformed as smoky factories rise from the edges of the village that they are from. We see some small allotments on the right, with two workers who seemingly have been pushed out of the village by the industrial factories. But whatever is going on in the background, the grandfather is focused on visiting his wife’s grave and probably share the most wonderful stories about her with his grandchildren.
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