As usual I arrived when the doors opened at 8:15, and thus pretty much had the place to myself. This year I spent more time looking, less time photographing. Walking slowly along the two corridors, looking in each cell, meditating on each fresco, became an inside prayer walk.
A majority of the cells depict the crucifixion. The Dominican monks of fifteenth century Italy were expected to contemplate on Jesus’ suffering and death. I wouldn’t have wanted one of those crucifixion cells; my choice would have been the first cell on the corridor picturing Jesus in the garden with Mary Magdalene after his crucifixion and resurrection but before his ascension.
When I was in college we studied Renaissance paintings from an historical and artistic perspective. We were NOT to tap into the religious story or attend to any spiritual feeling we might glean. That was the 60s and unless you were Roman Catholic school, there was no way to include both. In the classroom, art appreciation and religious decrement were mutually exclusive.
Thank God I don’t have to deal with that any more.