Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

St. Roch Asking the Virgin Mary to Heal Victims of the Plague

St. Roch Asking the Virgin Mary to Heal the Victims of the PlagueIn St. Roch Asking the Virgin Mary to Heal Victims of the Plague by Jacques Louis David St. Roch is seen kneeling amidst the agony of the Plague’s various victims.  Below Mary sit three figures, two of which are clearly in pain and desperate for her help.  These two, the woman and young boy, have faces of despair and they cling to each other in their suffering.  The man in front however, seems resigned to his fate; he looks not up at Mary but straight ahead.  His hand is placed, palm up, on his lap in a sign of defeat, and his face holds an expression which seems to almost challenge the viewer.  Above him St. Roch begs Mary for her help, his cheeks pink with strain.  Interestingly, his pink cheeks exactly mirror those of baby Jesus who sits in Mary’s arms.  In fact, their overall positions are completely parallel, both depicted from the side with their faces turned up towards Mary.  Their interaction with the Virgin Mother, however, is in stark contrast.  Jesus holds Mary’s face in a loving, almost playful way, while St. Roch turns toward her in desperation and terror.  Mary’s reaction to St. Roch’s plea, with her finger pointing in accusation, seems contradictory to the love she and Jesus share.  However, the analogous position of Jesus and St. Roch suggests that despite the seemingly disapproving finger, Mary’s treatment of St. Roch will ultimately be equivalent to her treatment of Jesus.  Christ, in His mirroring of St. Roch seems to be interceding for him, calling on his mother to give St. Roch her love and aid, just as she gives it to Him as she holds Him closely in her arms.

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3 responses

  1. ca9455

    This is an interesting painting but the light that is coming from behind Mary and Jesus symbolyze their devinity while the rest of the painting is covered in dark clouds symbolizing the darkness that has covered the earth.

    May 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

  2. Very interesting thing to write about. It’s looks like a lot of interpretation and difficulty to drain what this painting actually means. Great job on the analysis though. One thing I thought was interesting was that the guy was pleading to Mary, not to Jesus, who is still somehow a baby. Interesting….

    May 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

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