Christian Tradition and Revolutionary Agitation in Facial Expressions

July 13, 2017

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira *

The figure in our first picture instills us with sentiments of profound respect. It portrays an elderly mother who appears to have spent her life in the dignified and pious environment of the home.

Her dedication to her family, her temperance and her freshness of soul enable her to enjoy the chaste joys of domestic life while doing its chores neither sluggishly nor slothfully. In short, everything about this unassuming spinner from Sardinia inspires honest respect and sincere admiration.

  Moreover, closer scrutiny reveals that she is accustomed to the respect of those around her; and that, despite her maternal sweetness, she is sufficiently conscious of her own dignity to prevail over anyone who is lacking in respect to her.

Nevertheless, she is content with her lot. She wants neither to be, nor appear to be cultured, noble or rich. Although she accepts the social hierarchy, she is conscious of possessing the essential dignity of a human being and of a child of God redeemed by Our Lord Jesus Christ. She is, therefore, wisely content with the state of life into which she was born and placed by Providence.The painting below by David, in the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyons, shows a “maraîchère,” a vegetable farmer from the wetlands of France. She is a typical example of those termagants who took part in the French Revolution.

“The Woman of the People” by Jacques Louis David.

While the spinner irradiates warmth, dignity, temperance and peace, this virago excites hatred, revolt, excess and agitation. Her familiar environment is the street, not the home. Her gaze crackles from inner flames, her bitter lips have just uttered one insult, to be followed by another, and those arms seem made not to cradle children but rather to brandish and old knife or chair leg in riots.  By creating different ambiences, these two women perpetuate opposite customs and represent two irreconcilable civilizations ─ to the degree that the latter can even be called a civilization − Christian civilization and revolutionary neo-pagan civilization.


* Catolicismo Nº 118 – October 1960 . ACC # 118.




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