Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Sometimes I Am Given to Pause

December 18th, 2010, Promulgated by Bernie


"Annunciation Series" (Duccio Diptych), Basilios Poulos, acrylic on canvas 59" x 96", 1996

I was browsing this morning looking for a good image of Duccio’s painting of “The Annunciation” from his Maestà Predella altar piece when I stumbled upon this modern interpretation of Duccio’s painting by artist Basilios Poulos. Sight of the painting caused me to pause. Like everyone else I make numerous and quick –instantaneous(?)–  judgments throughout any given day. So, if in the middle of a rush –something like a fast, serpentine movement through a packed crowd at the mall with my destination clearly in mind– something grabs my attention and holds it, I know I have to stop and think about what I’m looking at. That’s the feeling I was taken with when I saw this painting. For some reason –and I’m not entirely certain why, yet– the feeling of the “Annunciation” swept over me. I don’t think it was just the recognition of the iconic scene. I was given pause to ponder the actual event of the Annunciation. The image invited meditation.

It has been a while since I challenged you to evaluate a work of art for its appropriateness as liturgical art, defined as art occupying a significant place in the chancel or nave of the church. This is in contrast to devotional religious art that one might have at home, or, art displayed in a church but in a peripheral location to facilitate pious but private prayer.

Devotional art, of course, allows for a wide embrace of styles and interpretations because such works usually have a private or more specific appeal. Feeling and emotion, I think, play a bigger role in devotional art. Dogmatic and transcendental aspects, perhaps, may be less pronounced or emphasized, or are more subtly presented and interpreted in devotional art. Sentimentality can even be acceptable in devotional art whereas it would not be in liturgical art –in my opinion. This modern work by Basilios Poulos certainly falls into the category of devotional art, although it may not be particularly appealing or helpful to you, personally. But, could this painting also qualify as a liturgical work of art? 

Can you envision the painting by Basilios Poulos, at the top of this post, occupying a place of prominence in the chancel of a church holding the title of “The Church of Annunciation”? Why or why not?

Below is Duccio’s painting upon which Poulos based his interpretation.

"The Annunciation", a panel from The Maestà Predella altar piece, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, tempera on wood 43 x 44 cm, 1311, National Gallery, London













To view numerous artistic interpretations of the Annunciation click on this link:




5 Responses to “Sometimes I Am Given to Pause”

  1. Nerina says:


    While I’m thinking about the liturgical art question, I just want to say that you should be teaching a class! I love your posts and think they are some of the most enjoyable and worthwhile ones to read. I think I mentioned this before, but I actually use your posts to catechize my kids about religious art. Thank you for the effort and for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Bernie says:


    How nice! Thank you for the feedback. It is very much appreciated. I’m especially thrilled to know that you are finding the posts useful for your children!

  3. Gretchen says:

    We love your posts, too. It’s so nice to read something strictly uplifting and educational and to enjoy the beauty of the photos you post!

  4. Nerina says:

    As to the liturgical art question: I think a church could do a heck of a lot worse than using the above painting. At least it follows some of the rules you have previously laid out for considering art as fitting for the liturgy.

  5. benanderson says:

    Bernie, I also enjoy these posts, but I’m still too much of a noob to have an opinion.

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