‘To Stun the Soul'

J. M. W. Turner at the Met

We do not see light itself, but without it we see nothing at all. People speak of the golden light of Venice, the pale blue of Madrid, or the silver sheen of Cape Cod in September. What they are remembering is atmosphere illumined—the particular range of color in a cityscape or landscape. Light reveals the gift of the world to us and so, from the earliest Greek philosophers through Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius, light has been associated with the divine. When Suger of...

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About the Author


Leo J. O’Donovan, SJ, a frequent contributor to Commonweal, is president emeritus of Georgetown University.