The Gospel: the priest moves to the center of the altar while the server moves the missal from the right to the left. The priest prays for a clean heart to be worthy to proclaim the Gospel.
The majesty of the huge altar demands a sincerity from the people. The Gospel is not just the Word of God, but the words of the Word made Flesh. The whole of the Bible is written by God, but the Gospels are His time on Earth fulfilling the Law.
This is why we always stand when the Gospel is read.
In the center of this altar is the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani: Mary, Salvation or Health of the Roman people and has been the protectress of Rome since the icon’s arrival in the 500s.
Through Mary the Word was made Flesh. By her cooperation God became Man and dwelt among us. It is fitting, therefore, that the Gospel image would bear Our Lady.
Surrounded by angels heralding and holding up the image, we are reminded of the grace of God given to Mary to be exalted; “From this day all generations shall call me blessed”. It is not man that loves Mary, but the angels as well. They rejoiced with creation upon the birth of Christ, guiding the shepherds to the nativity.
The church in this painting is the side chapel with the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani in St. Mary Major in Rome, Italy. Painted as an illustration for Kimberly Fries’ book: Traditional Latin Mass: A Missal for Children found here: https://amzn.to/3FnasK0
(For the Latin Mass loving Catholics checking for Churches to go to, Rome is amazing. I think they sometimes do a Latin Mass at this altar, but it’s on a particular schedule. It’s also the oldest church dedicated to Mary. 100% worth the visit.)
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