Becca / Faith

Michelangelo, Maya Angelo, and Theological Truths in the Sistine Chapel

A year and a half ago I went through a difficult break-up. It was a challenging season but through it all I really felt the presence of God. One thing that really helped me through the restlessness as the months passed was delving into the mystery of my own feminine heart and learning about what JPII called “the Feminine Genius”. Since that time, looking at a woman’s heart and intuition has taken theology, and my own prayer life, to an entirely different level!

At some point during that autumn I read a beautiful blog post about one of the frescos in the Sistine Chapel: the renowned “Creation of Adam”. In this famous fresco, completed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1510, the focus is most often placed on Adam and the awkward handshake a little reminiscent of E.T., but it is the presence of Eve that really intrigues me… If you look closely, you see her positioned under the Father’s arms on the right side of the fresco, within the red cloak and surrounded by the angels.

michelangelo-creation-of-adam-590x474

With reference to Eve, Fr. Jacob Bertrand writes:

The red cloak that kind of swishes around both of them, if you notice looks kind of like a brain from left to right (the frontal lobe is there on the left). Then if you were to rotate the brain (mind) one turn to the left, you will notice that it looks like a heart (notice the ventricles). It is here that Michelangelo is making the theological point that is so important for all young women and men to know as they date: Woman (Eve) is meant to be kept in the mind and heart of God and Man (Adam) is only capable of truly seeing her through the mind and heart of God.”

So cool, amirite?

Michelangelo-Sistine-Chapel-Adam-Brain-

As women, our intuition, receptivity, and maternity (both spiritual and physical) bring us closer to the heart and mind of God. Perhaps this is why women are never satisfied; we have a capacity for the infinite!! Union with the heart and mind of God inevitably leads to a divine restlessness.

This past June I went on an epic pilgrimage, walking the Camino Frances and then visiting Rome. On my last day in the Eternal City, I visited the Vatican Museum specifically to check out the Creation of Adam. We were packed like sardines into the Sistine Chapel—it was literally standing room only on that warm and sticky day in Rome—but as I gazed up at that fresco, time seemed to stop. I revelled in the thought that I am able to uniquely know the heart and mind of God. I felt the Lord making a promise to me…to safeguard my heart and gently prepare me for my future vocation.

Maya Angelou, a personal hero of mine, has said: “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” God is gentle and loving and wants to give you the desires of your heart—but first and foremost, He wants you. So, with spring finally upon us and new life appearing at every turn, why not meditate on the spiritual truth that both Michelangelo and Maya Angelou hone in on? Dig into the beauty of your own feminine genius so that you can image God’s love to the world!

Want to read more? Check out this post on The Papist “Michelangelo’s Theology of the Body” and don’t miss the last guest post in this series coming soon!

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