CARAVAGGIO’S CALLING OF ST MATTHEW

September 17th 2022

“The Calling of St Matthew”, Caravaggio, 1599-1600, Church of San Luigi Franchesi, Rome.

As if a door were suddenly flung open, a shaft of light reveals the group sitting around the table.  The ledger, the quill and the coins, suggest that this is a place of business, and the darkness suggests that perhaps these dealings are shady.  The men around the table are not attired in the classic  “gospel”  style as are Christ and an unidentified apostle; they are dressed for the streets of Caravaggio’s Rome.  The shaft of light of light just catches the raised hand of Christ reaching into their shady world.  One of them looks at Christ and points a finger at himself as if to say,  “Who, me?”  The call of Christ to follow is being heard in the contemporary world of the viewer.  This was the first large commission the artist received and it made his name.  The raised hand of Christ is in the same pose as the hand of God which gives life to Adam on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.   This reference to creation suggests that the hand of Christ not only beckons us to follow but also redeems and remakes us, imparting in us the grace to follow him. “The Calling of St Matthew”  isn’t just about St Matthew.  It is about our call to follow Christ in this world, whoever we are and wherever we are.   We celebrate the Feast of St Matthew on Wednesday.  

CARAVAGGIO’S CALLING OF ST MATTHEW

Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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