Friday, May 27, 2011

Figure-drawing Saints: The Dark Night of the Soul of St. Hippolytus

Warning! Contains nudity, though not showing everything.
Thus the picture is at the bottom of this post.

In my figure drawing class one day, I was thinking about St. Hippolytus. He was a very unusual saint. He is known for his writings that reveal to us early Church liturgy, but also for being the first antipope. That's right, the first antipope is a saint! He attacked and calumniated the popes and saints Zephyrinus, Callistus I, Urban I, and Pontian, and had himself elected antipope to Urban. It was when the Roman Emperor in a persecution of Christians exiled both Pontian and Hippolytus to the mines of Sardinia that Hippolytus repented and Pontian forgave him. They died of the conditions there, and are thus reckoned martyrs.

So I was thinking about him and started praying to him as I drew. This Spring I've been rather troubled. The scrupulosity that several years ago I thought with joy and relief was gone forever returned. Scrupulosity may seem like a trivial problem, but it means overwhelming guilt and despair. So I meditated on what incredible guilt Hippolytus must have gone through, and tried to express it in my drawing. This is really just a sketch, but I want to make a full painting with more symbolic elements on the same title and theme.

With encouragement of my teacher, drawing the figures in class as specific saints became an ongoing project that was very interesting and fruitful. I'll post more of those coming up!

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