‘Noli me tangere’ Fra Angelico


11th March 2020

Finding, knowing or being with God can at times be difficult. However, I believe that perhaps we do not sufficiently use our own senses to find or discover a presence which is more apparent than we want to accept.

We can find God or God can connect with us in many different ways. He is accessible if we are open to meet him. Elijah met God not in a great and strong wind, an earthquake or a fire, but in a still small voice. That small voice would have been almost imperceptible, almost silent, but it was very much present for Elijah.

We generally associate the Passion of Christ, God’s own Son, with the violence and noise of execution, but I wonder whether this was the case throughout all of the Passion. Christ’s voice is hardly heard and once he arrived at the Cross, a certain calm may well have descended on Golgotha, as the crowds turned their backs on Christ and the crucifixion. Christ’s voice became like the voice of his Father in heaven: quiet and almost imperceptible as he suffered his Passion.

This quietness undoubtedly continued to the tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane, which brings me to the fresco entitled Noli Me Tangere painted by Fra Angelico which is to be found in the monastery of San Marco, in Florence.

This fresco, which I have seen twice in the monastery, strikes me as one which says so much about the gentle and silent presence of God in the silence and emptiness of the tomb, the peacefulness of the garden, and the soothing and miraculous actions and words of Christ appearing to Mary Magdalen. The fresco is full of that still small voice that Elijah had recognised.

During Lent and through Easter, perhaps we should recognise the “still small voice of God” in the hustle and bustle of London and the hurly-burly of our own lives. If we do, then will we not have discovered a trusted and loving companion at our side: someone who has promised always to be with us?

Howard Redgwell


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