Tuesday, April 02, 2013



I have made some research of late into things Nigerian, and find the subject  of increasing interest - particularly as it concerns the great Igbo ( pronounced -  as nearly as we will get it - "Ibo") people. You may think you know nothing of them. But anyone interested in the life of the Catholic Church will have heard of the great Cardinal Arinze who is an Igbo man. And the Catholic riches of that people are far more extensive than that, as the people of the Archdiocese of Brisbane have so gratefully learned in Priests and Seminarians serving there.

Among the rich treasury of Igbo  names - Godly names, for this is a people of devout and vital Catholic Faith - cherished by the Igbo people is "Ifeanyi more fully, Ifeanyichukwu" which I understand means :

                                                 "Nothing is impossible with God!".

Now, I understand that among the Nigerian Priests and Seminarians in Brisbane Archdiocese there are at least 3 with the short form " Ifeanyi" among their names.And looking around Facebook numerous examples of its use can be found.
 So, it seems appropriate to consider the name " IFEANYI" as we celebrate the glorious Feast of the Resurrection , that most remarkable - no EXTRAORDINARY miracle, matching the Incarnation in its breathtaking wonder. Indeed in these two exceptional Theophanies we see that truly Ifeanyichukwu : Nothing is impossible with God.

And the more so when we consider the above painting which seems to be by Fra Angelico and represents Christ rising from the tomb. For we find on the left hand side of the painting as we see it, the head of an African man actually on Christ's right, appearing to breathe cooling air toward the Saviour. There is much of complex symbolism in the whole composition.Note the disembodied hands about the Saviour's face , one holding a rod to gently remove the Crown of Thorns, another reaching to remove the disc of glory marked with His Cross about his head, another seemingly just extended open palm and another extended but flat against the background to the right of the Saviour's Head as we look on.Jesus holds the Orb and Sceptre symbols of Kingship, but they are not normal Royal items -the Orb appears to be of Gold and the Sceptre perhaps of Ivory.

I would be most interested to hear from anyone expert in the symbolism of painting in the period , who could give an authoritative account of its meaning.

The African man is not shown in the more frequent " Moor" mode , or diminutive curiosity mode, both common, and often demeaning at the time, but rather in a very accurate and dignified manner.

We are far too ignorant of the vibrant life of Africa, the richness of its cultures and immense potential of its amazing people. We are learning from Rome what our ignorance of Latin America , here at the outer edges of the Anglosphere has hidden from us. From what my early discoveries have revealed, we also have a great deal in our Catholic Faith life to learn from the devotion and authentic Catholic spirituality of the really vast African  continent with its massive population of highly intelligent people often so badly served by corrupt Governments.


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