Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
We keep on talking about how to know Jesus Christ through meditation prayer. The different ways of meditations have a starting point in common: reality.
It can be nature, books about spirituality, The Bible or an image. Other elements can also be added provided that they come from real life: individuals, what may happen around us, past or present History, our political situation, migrations, etc.
We have concentrated on still images, religious images, due to the importance they have to look and to be looked by whom we know loves us.
The process followed by Teresa is as follows:
- The choice of an image.
- Meditating with the image chosen.
- Embrace it, till it remains fixed in your mind.
- Make it be the starting point of a dialogue with Jesus.
- Return to the fixed image in your mind so as to maintain a mental hygiene whenever a thought may disturb us.
- On mystic periods the image comes to life and the dialogue improves.
- She orders the painting from a soul-eyed point of view to be again a starting point of a new meditation.
It is the case of the image we are introducing today. Nowadays it is known as “the pretty-eyed Christ”. Black and white originally and coloured afterwards. There are enough documents to have no doubt to know that this painting belongs to her iconostasis. It is a mural painting in one of Saint José de Ávila´s shrines, where she often would go off to pray alone. It´s one of her favourite things she would enjoy doing as, according to tradition, Jesus was alone in those moments and she wants to keep Him company. She sees the image with her soul eyes, although it is pretty similar to the original image she meditates on. She hires a painter from Ávila and she gives him instructions on how to paint the image she sees inside her and how he has to paint it. Thanks to the testimony of several witnesses during beatification process, we can know what happened. The painter´s name was Jerónimo de Ávila, the witness chosen among several ones was Luis Pacheco:
“In a hermitage inside San Jose´s monastery in the city of the Beatus Mother, she made paint an imagen of Christ our Lord bound to the column by Jerónimo Dávila, neighbour of this city. She made him paint a rip in His Blessed flesh on the left arm next to His elbow, fact never seen before in any image by this witness. Jerónimo Dávila wanted to know the reason why in certain images made by hand were there these features. He answered that he had painted the fresco painting in the hermitage mentioned, according to what he was told by the Beatus Mother as she was telling him-as long as he was painting-how to paint the face´s features, hair´s position, and members of the body; she also told him to paint that signal and rip behind the elbow of that saintly body. Once he had painted it, the Beatus Mother was entranced and Jerónimo Dávila was hunched; another mother from the same convent who was there, grabbed the Beatus Mother by her habit and told her a few words scolding her.” (BMC, Procesos, II, 210)
Let´s imagine the scene. Teresa entranced, that´s to say, living an intense moment of love received by Christ, typical of the sixth mansion. It is followed by a mystical paranormal phenomenon, a levitation. Teresa was in the air, a nun pulling her down to the ground by grabbing her habit and the painter “hunched”. The fact of the rip in the elbow is certified by her first biographer and Jesuit friend Francisco de Ribera:
“Being at the front desk of The Encarnación talking to that person previously mentioned, Our Lord showed her a very sore arm and with a bit of flesh pulled out, consequence of having been bounded to the column. He seemed to be complaining for the time He was bounded by her and how bad she would respond to what He was doing”
We discovered it a while later when we visited the hermitage:
“I went to a very lonely hermitage, of which this convent has a number, and which contains a representation of Christ bound to the Column, and there I begged Him to grant me this favour. Then I heard a very soft voice, speaking to me, as it were, in a whisper. My whole body quivered with fear and I tried to catch what the voice was saying, but I could not, and very soon it was gone.” (Life 39.3)
According to witnesses this painting was painted after a long time of prayer, it was soon renown and performed plenty of miracles