The commentary of the cover

Seeing Christ in Color by Pierre-Marie Dumont

Here is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres, so dear to Charles Péguy’s heart, “with its flawless spire which never falters.” Like Noah’s ark, surviving the flood under the arc of the rainbow, it emerges from “the heavy expanse and the deep swell and the waves of grain.” The cathedral here is a figure of the Church buffeted by the tossing tides of the world. It shelters within its bosom the great multitude of those who will be saved for ever from the floods of sin and the abyss of death. In a kind of reverse Transfiguration, in the sky above, separating light from darkness, a rainbow appears: here the divine makes manifest his humanity as a sign of the new and eternal covenant. The rainbow is composed of six colors: the three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, and three others born of the association of two primary colors: green, orange, and violet. Each symbolizes a human virtue: the red of love, blue of fortitude, yellow of wisdom, orange of justice, violet of consecration to one’s own vocation, and green of piety. It was these human qualities that, unified in Edenic harmony, first clothed man and woman in their admirable likeness to God. Six is in fact the number that represents the plenitude of created humanity (God created man on the sixth day). Thus, when the rainbow parts the heavens, it is divine light, of a whiteness unknowable to mortal eyes, that diffracts into six colors to reveal itself in the plenitude of its humanity. Six plus one (the white light) equals seven: the rainbow is the visible sign of divinity assuming humanity and, through this act, glorifying his own perfection. As in the Genesis story, the rainbow is here a figure of Jesus Christ, crowning his Church in a halo of sanctity. It is in this sense that Goethe dared to say: “Colors—emerging from the rainbow— are the expression of the suffering of the light,” that is, the human suffering Love incarnate endured, manifesting his divinity as he loved us to the end (Jn 13:1). Finally, as we enter Lent, does this work by Gaston de La Touche († 1913) not remind you of Pascal’s warning: “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world; we must not sleep during this time”?

Cathedral of Chartres, Gaston de La Touche (1854-1913)

MUDO-Musée de l’Oise, Beauvais, France © RMN-GP/René Gabriel Ojéda