Rays indicating God’s presence burst forth from the top of the painting, while tongues of fire leap on the heads of all present, filling them with the Holy Spirit.
Peter (top left), James (lower right) and John (without a bead), Mary Magdalene, and the Blessed Mother gather with the other Apostles in the upper room awaiting the Spirit that was promised to them by Jesus just 9 days before at his Ascension. The Spirit He had been speaking about His whole ministry.
They’re filled with joy and wonder, set on fire for God. Soon they will all leave the Upper Room and Peter will speak to those present and all will understand them in their own native tongue. The crowd thinks they’re drunk, the Apostles are so joyful before Peter stood up and proclaimed the Gospel.
This is one of 12 paintings for the Ascension Press program “What We Believe” found here.
As part of the program I worked closely with the team to come up with each composition, and for this one it was particularly important to emphasize their joy.
Each character is reacting differently, Peter raises his arms, receiving and soaking it all in.
Mary Magdalene is filled with wonder and holds her arms to her chest feeling the Spirit indwell into her heart.
James is moved to kneel in prayer, and looks up with a quiet wonder.
John leans in and gestures out to us all.
Mary receives and gestures out to John (reminding us of Jesus’ last words commending Mary to John as mother) and places her hand on her heart. She who is full of grace has always had the Spirit. From her conception without sin, to the conception and Incarnation of God in her womb, to receiving the Eucharist, to now receiving again The Spirit at Pentecost.
There’s a reason the ray only intercede’s Mary’s halo and why Mary’s halo has more ornate scalloping than the other Saints (in this and all the other images in the series). It’s not indicating that she is God, but that she is full of grace, before, now, and forever after.
Also, if you’re wondering why Mary is wearing opposite colors is because we brought in some of the beautiful roots of Byzantine iconography into several of these prints.
In Byzantine iconography, Mary wears blue and is clothed in red because her humanity (red) covered the divinity (blue) of Jesus in her womb. While Jesus wears red and is clothed in blue because his humanity is clothed in his Divinity. In Byzantine art, their colors are opposites of each other.
In Western art, Mary wears red for her humanity that is clothed in the blue divine graces she has received as being the Mother of God. But interestingly, in Western art, Jesus wears the same colors as iconography – if He and Mary appear together, she has a more pink than red dress.
AND if you’re a more traditional Catholic, and wondering why Mary Magdalene isn’t wearing a veil, long flowing hair is traditionally a symbol of penitence, and Mary Magdalene the epitome of penitence.