The commentary of the cover
Touch Me Not! by Pierre-Marie Dumont
A contemporary of Raphael and Michelangelo, Francesco di Cristofano († 1525), known by the name Franciabigio, is part of the flourishing brotherhood of grand masters whom posterity treats as minor masters. This happy oversight allows sensible connoisseurs to view their works in relative peace, without having to share them with many tourists. The front cover of this issue of your Magnificat features a detail from one of his frescos, illustrating the Gospel scene Noli me tangere (Jn 20:17). What mysterious words they are, pronounced by Christ on Easter morning! Translations vary, but the original Greek tends to confirm the reading “Touch me not!” Mary Magdalene has just heard her first name uttered by an improbable voice that turns her heart upside down; overcome with happiness a moment after thinking that she was forever doomed to sadness, she recognizes her beloved Master alive! Her hands quickly reach out to take hold of him and embrace him, to weep in his arms, to weep again every tear that is within her, but they are tears of joy now, the greatest joy that there can be on earth, the joy of the Resurrection.... But look: Christ’s glorified hand, forever marked with its stigmata, opposes her invincibly, while the sacred prohibition is stated categorically: Touch me not!
From now on, the historical Jesus will be seated at the right hand of the Father. It is impossible for us to have a relationship with him directly, he in heaven and we on earth, without reducing him to a subjective experience, to the illusion produced by our desire to “touch” the one we love without having seen him. Certainly he remains present among us every day until the end of time, but in a new way: sacramentally, both in the Eucharist and in every encounter with the “other.” The prohibition Touch me not! is then to be connected to the efficacy of the sacraments and the victory of the New Commandment in each of our lives: Love one another as I have loved you (cf. Jn 13:34). Touch me not! then means: “Go to the others, our brothers and sisters, and then, yes, touch me! And never stop touching me, because whatever you do to the least of them, you do to me!”
Noli me tangere (detail), Franciabigio (1484–1525), Museo di Cenacolo, San Salvi, Italy.
© Domingie & Rabatti / La Collection.