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Christ drawn with one line

Christ gazes out of the page dolefully, head canted and haloed.

He seems to float, disembodied, between our world and the next. And, at first, we could step back in sympathy, shocked by the blood that drips like teardrops from those baleful thorns. But something else soon catches light. It might be the ringed texture of his eyeshine or that fingerprint whorl on the nose’s tip. Then we notice the print’s corners, where curves recede as waves do from a skipping stone. It can’t be, we think — but it is. This image was made with a single line.  An Iconic Line: Claude Mellan’s *The Sudarium of Saint Veronica* (1649)


When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don t happen still
But now I can t keep track
Cause everything s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child s face
And say it s not a testament
That d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kevin in PA November 14, 2021, 3:35 AM

    Good Sunday Morning to you.
    Amen and thank you for sharing this one, Gerard.

  • LadyBikki November 14, 2021, 3:46 AM

    Everything is holy.
    Yes, indeed it is.

  • Mike Austin November 14, 2021, 5:58 AM

    It was Mellan who held the pencil. It was Christ who held his hand. Just as He held the hands of Michelangelo, of Raphael, of Donatello, of Botticelli. Just as He holds mine. Just as He holds yours.

  • John Venlet November 14, 2021, 6:19 AM

    Just as He holds yours.

    And if He is not holding your hand, He is always holding His hand out to you, and has been since the creation of the world.

  • Humdeedee November 14, 2021, 7:14 AM

    The amazing single-line etching of Christ by an ancient artist, the beautiful song counting the miracles all around us and the comments by the faithful followers of the miracle that is American Digest, my heart is swollen and my eyes teary with the astonishing miracles with which we are blessed. Today, and I hope all the days left to me, I will take notice.

  • Richard November 14, 2021, 8:04 AM

    Very impressive and EXPRESSIVE, indeed. I marvel at people who are blessed with talent such as this. I have all I can do getting a stick-figure right.
    Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven. Especially those who are in most need of Your mercy.

  • Tom Hyland November 14, 2021, 8:43 AM

    Being a graphic designer, sign maker, portrait artist… this thing totally blows my mind. I am unworthy. You look at the architecture of the era this etching was created, look at the Flemish still-lifes, gaze at the jewelry and furnishings… humanity has lost not only its ability to create but also to recognize and appreciate. Read the “mouse utopia” article I linked to earlier today. On another topic, you’ve notice how a meme such as “Let’s Go Brandon” has a life of its own? Here’s a meme that started in the 1830’s and grew to amazing proportions all the while nourished along by some of the greatest artists of the times.

  • James ONeil November 14, 2021, 8:47 AM

    Everything is holy now.
    No it isn’t.

    Having said that, perhaps we’ve been taking good and God for granted for too long.

    Perhaps we especially need the Bidens, Pelosi, Soros, Gates, woke, riots, etc. to appreciate all the holy surrounding us in spite of the evil incarnate.

    Mysterious ways.

  • julie November 14, 2021, 9:21 AM

    I read, once upon a time and long ago, that when something is blessed (for instance water, or food, or an infant at baptism), it is not being made holy, its holiness is simply being revealed.

    I marvel at the mind that can imagine creating the face of Christ out of a single line. Beautiful.

  • SteveS November 14, 2021, 9:42 AM

    James ONeal,
    Good point. I believe you’re right about taking goodness and God for granted. And when things get out of balance God use extremes to get our attention and bring us back? Good/evil, health/sickness, comfort/pain…whatever we need to right our perspective. The miracle and the holiness are always there if we but open to it. As someone said, always holding His hand out to you.

  • Jewel November 14, 2021, 10:34 AM

    From The Litany of Humility
    Last prayer:
    That others may be preferred to me in everything,
    That others may become holier than I,
    provided that I may become as holy as I should,
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

    • Mike Austin November 14, 2021, 11:52 AM

      For years after Mass I prayed that prayer.

  • ghostsniper November 14, 2021, 10:59 AM

    If that had been drawn in AutoCAD and it was indeed 1 line, you could right click on that line and it would tell you the total length in feet and inches.

    I was going to open the file in photoshop and convert it from a raster to a vector which I then could import into autocad and then do the properties check on the line length. I zoomed in on the edges and saw that the lines run off the page and are not consistent. It is not the complete picture. I did a google for it and the whole picture does not seem to be available. Oh well, I tried.

  • Terry November 14, 2021, 11:05 AM

    Thank you for posting this Gerard.

    And I also thank all the people who have commented.

  • Joe Krill November 14, 2021, 12:47 PM

    Gerard, Thank you.

  • jwm November 15, 2021, 7:29 AM

    Another late note:
    This is an etching. That means that the white in the illustration is where material was removed from the plate. The black lines are untouched by the stylus. The illustration itself was scratched into the plate with light and dark reversed, just like the negative for a photo.


  • Casey Klahn November 16, 2021, 5:59 AM

    Good catch, jwm.

    I very much like the banners flown during the Crusades, depicting Christ also “floating”, which simply means there is no anchor of neck or shoulders. In some war banners, His hair is wild and, I want to say feral, with rasta-like braids. Just as the Theta floats, and is the first letter of God, the Northern Europeans also float their designs and remind us of God’s nature.

    Line itself is a product of Point (a dot), and is identified with spirituality, as Color is identified with the senses. One line is a strong example of Unity, but a line in the abstract sense has little or no Form.

    All this to say that representing a face or figure, in sign, is quit an endeavor, if I do say so myself. To etch it on a plate, in the negative, and invoke the sacred, is rightly considered a miracle, both in simple terms and in particular to this artwork.

    I note that He’s sweating blood from His cheeks.

    Trying to invent a new picture of Christ is a fairly contemporary undertaking. Not that long ago, it was how strict one could adhere to a programmatic idea of what His appearance was like that mattered. The Salvador Mundi is an update of iconographic images that go back to the 6th Century. These things are important to know. One popular art blogger once wrote about how contemporaries of Jesus drew his picture. She was certainly telling a story outside of Sunday school!

    My favorite depictions of Christ are by Rembrandt, who legendarily went into the Jewish district of Amsterdam to find a model to represent Jesus’ appearance.

    My 2 portraits of Christ are in the hands of private collectors. I used Rembrandt for a source. Here is one of them: