Wisdom on Wednesdays—The desire of the wildest imagination

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Annunciation, 1921, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in.

“Today we are prone to forget that Christ combines the Aesthetic, the Expedient, and the Religious Life.  We forget that He came not only because man needed hope for eternal beatitude but that he was also the historic concrete answer to the desire of the wildest imagination: the appearance on earth of a God-man.  History united to myth.”  (1960)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The Hope

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Noli me tangere (Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection), woodblock print, 1920, 8¾ x 5 in.

“Christianity in the first 500 years of its existence was known as ‘The Love’ in much the same way as it is known in our day as ‘The Faith.’  It died as love and resurrected as faith as it is dying today as faith and is resurrected as a hope.”  (1941)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—What causes all the joy

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Brown Nativity, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in.

“What causes all the joy, even irresponsibly, to flood one’s soul, and mind, and veins and heart so that there seems to be no sorrow or pain?  What causes all the joy to disappear, sometimes for long arid periods, sometimes for a moment—why the almost complete despair?  I suppose only in these circumstances can we reach the greatest gift—HOPE.”  (1938)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Christian hope and the artist’s sanity

“To come as near despair as possible without losing hope—that is the aim of a Christian.
“To come as near madness as possible without losing sanity—(that is, to be as fanatical as possible without losing idiocy) is the aim of an artist.”  (1932)

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St. Paul the Hermit, oil on canvas, c. 1922, 30 x 25 in. (Private collection)
Schmitt’s depiction of St. Paul of Thebes (d. c. 341) being fed miraculously by a raven was probably inspired by a painting of the saint by the great seventeenth-century Spanish artist Velázquez.  The enigmatic figure on the foreground is Schmitt’s own contribution.
A version of this painting in brighter colors is part of the Carl Schmitt Foundation’s collection.