Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ars Moriendi - Art of Dying

Daniel Mitsui has an impeccable gift for finding images of truth, goodness, and beauty. All this month he has lifted up primarily images centered on the 'Dance of Death' from art around Christendom in honor of November - the Month of the Holy Souls.

It is timely and apt that he share the following as the month now rapidly draws to a close. Namely, Ars Moriendi - The Art of Dying. From Emile Mâle:
The Ars moriendi is the work of a monk or priest who had seen many people die. In this little book we have the somber experience of a man who had collected together many last words, barely spoken... The text was often striking, but it was the astonishing woodcuts above all that spread its fame throughout Europe. Here it is indeed a question of Christian hopes and fears: death appears not as a farcical dance, but as a serious drama played around the bed of the dying man; angel and devil stand at his side, contending for the soul that will soon depart. Formidable moment! The Christian needed to know in advance the temptations and anguish of the terrible dark hours to come in order to learn how to triumph over them... The dying man is exposed to five principal temptations. God, however, does not abandon the Christian, and five times sends His angel to comfort him.
For all of Mitsui's post, see here. For a contemporary effort for modern denizens who are in need of a guide to dying a holy death, see here.

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