Monday, May 11, 2015

I Like the Logo for The Holy Year of Mercy

Straining out the gnat.

A few vocal critics at Patheos and elsewhere have been rather adamant in their disapproval of the official image, and that's just fine. I was happy to discover that another Patheos blogger, Billy Kangas actually loves the logo. He has posted ten reason why it's okay to say so - go here* to read.

I like the logo because it is simple and clean - and I love the artist's other works - his mosaics are beautiful in their simplicity, very much like ancient graffiti as well as early Christian illumination. His construction of the mosaic is elegant in its restrained opulence. Father Marko Ivan Rupnik is the artist who did the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican. It seems appropriate he should also design the logo for the Year of Mercy - a devotion so close to heart of St. John Paul. The Redemptoris Mater Chapel was a gift to the people of God from JPII on the eve of the Great Jubilee of 2000. The extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy seems to me to be the fruit of that work - part of the so-called New Springtime perhaps: “Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come!  The time of pruning the vines has come."

“Christ is the visible sign of the invisible God. Through him, the Father penetrates the whole of creation and the invisible God makes himself present among us and speaks to us” 

The Logo is moving because it immediately brings to mind the Resurrection of the Lord, the descent into Hell, crushing the gates of hell and leading the prisoners forth into freedom. The gate can also signify the cross - the triumph of the cross.

The figure of the Lord seems to carry the fallen Adam like the Good Shepherd rescuing the Lost Sheep, coming up from the abyss. At the same time the image suggests the Good Samaritan carrying the man left for dead by the side of the road. How intimately Christ carries us - the redemption is personal.

The eye speaks to me of how, as St. Paul says, Christ became sin - sharing our humanity and identifying himself with sinful man - inviting us to participate in his saving act - especially showing mercy to one another.  To see as Christ sees.

I like it very much. The logo isn't presented as an object for veneration, such as an icon or statue or a sacred image. As a logo it seems to me to be just fine. It symbolizes the meaning of mercy, it identifies the event, which the text announces. Coloration is perfect in that the blue mandorla is the traditional design which conveys the divine presence, as well as reminding us that the divinity is perceived in the darkness of faith: Hence Christ is the only image/icon of the Father - the invisible God: He is the visible image of the invisible God.

Go and learn the meaning of mercy.

Others are certainly free to critique and disparage the artistic merits and design of the logo. There were those who criticized WYD logos as well. Their critiques seem to me to be superficial and based upon subjective taste. A couple go to great lengths to justify themselves and their critiques, - so what can one say in response?  It is their personal opinion.

Unfortunately, I also read a short essay elsewhere which severely criticized the Holy Father's prayer composed for the Holy Year. Picking apart the composition of prayer, the need to assert one's level of taste in art and tear apart what is intended to convey an attitude of reconciliation and hope just seems so counterproductive and self referential.

Hopefully we all can open ourselves to the command to 'go learn the meaning of mercy' in this special Holy Year of Mercy.

Idle fact: Did you know many contemplatives spend the year before a Holy Year actually begins, praying in preparation for this special time of grace? It is after all, an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy that the Church prepares for. It is an extraordinary Jubilee Year - deserving of reverence, respect, and gratitude.  We can begin now to prepare.

*Go to the post I link to at Patheos here - and read the comments.  They claim the logo is 'dangerous', 'occult', 'offensive', and "theologically reprehensible, and pedagogically counterproductive."  Another logo expert insists it "is a bad logo by the standards of the profession."  Hmmmmmmmmmm.  ROFLOL!

Some of the Patheos experts didn't like this logo either.


  1. I went on one pathos blog and was one of three who like the logo and said so. My comment was ignored but the other two were taken to task with shrill commentary too stupid to post here but am sure you read some of the hyperbole. ;p

    Yeah...everyone is entitled to their opinion and yeah, it was all negative and sooooo serious one would think it was going to be displayed and the Guggenheim Museum of Art and being now torn apart by experts in the field of art.

    I liked it from the first as it spoke to me of love, tenderness and mercy. To be hoisted upon the shoulders of our Merciful Lord with such love is very comforting to me. So I am hoping to be able to buy a nice print of the logo and have it on display in my home for prayer and reflection.

    1. The occult link is the best example of hysteria. I recall a woman I ran into in a religious goods store who warned people not to buy a particular Divine Mercy image because the folds in the sleeve looked like a devil's horns if you tilted your head the right way. People mistrust the Divine Mercy devotion too - as well as despise the images as they depict Christ.

  2. I'll just come out and say it. I don't like the logo. It is ugly, and reminiscent of 70's-80's style artwork. That was my elementary years, and I'm ready to move beyond that. Bonus fact: If you research it (I think the Deacon's Bench blog gives more background), no surprise it was made by a Jesuit.

    1. The same guy did the Padre Pio mosaics and Fatima mosaics at the new shrines - as well as the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Vatican. I like his work very much. Of course I like a lot of stuff most people seem to hate.

      Don't blame the Jesuits though. People scapegoat the Jesuits.

    2. I think the Jesuits are great. True some have strayed but so have others from other orders and whatnot. St. Ignatius of Loyola is a favorite saint of mine and I believe that through his continued and powerful intercession, all will be well.

      The logo is a gift to us all and so is this piece of news as well.

      A Jesuit no less. <3

  3. I think the logo is hideous. There are so many options of truly beautiful art that could have been used and been much, much more effective. This "art" is confusing at best.

    1. You can think that.

      I'm not sure how you'd know that something else would be more effective though - since the logo was only just unveiled and it's effects are not yet known - except for those of us who have expressed an opinion.

  4. Logos are usually drawn simply. Here the artist has taken the icon of Christ's descent into hell, shown by the blue mandorla, representing the Light of Christ and typically used in iconography to indicate unseen action. The two sticks beneath His feet represent the gates of hell which He has smashed. This is combined with the imagery of the Good Shepherd so Christ has a sheep slung over His shoulders, in the form of a man as we're really not great at interpreting parables and the artist wanted the clueless to understand that we are the lost sheep which He seeks.

    1. Thank you Nan. At last a real expert weighs in.

  5. Oh, and the World Youth Day logo? Shows that we prefer fried eggs for breakfast.

    If you take a closer look, it's a baby in a cradle, suspended from the cross. The blue indicates that all humans are wrapped in Our Lady's love and the red recalls Christ's blood and His sacrifice for us.


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