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Caravaggio and the Conversion of Saul

Every civilization loves the New Year, a celebration of renewal. In the West, people make resolutions for self-improvement, embark on a “dry January,” or try new diets and exercise programs to reinvent themselves. These are signs of hope, a belief that the next year may be even better, or more importantly, that despite the omnipresent discouragement and despair, human beings can improve.
Interestingly, the Catholic Church closes the month of January with a commemoration of the greatest self-improvement story of Scripture, the conversion of Saul.
A Painting for the Jubilee
“Conversion on the Way to Damascus,” circa 1600–1601, by Caravaggio. Oil on canvas. Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. (Public Domain)
The conversion of Saul is a perennial favorite in the history of art: painted, sculpted, and reenacted in every medium. One of the most powerful renditions of the subject was painted by Caravaggio in 1600 for the Roman church of Santa Maria del Popolo….

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