Naked angels, holy bread scraps and sucre à la creme

by claude-klod

Naked angelMy family included many catholic devotees and nuns and priests. One of my aunt, a Franciscan nun, would mind me from time to time and the convent where she lived and where I would go left a profound impression on me. I fondly recall the beautiful high ceilings, the stained glass and the artwork which was everywhere. It really was a fascinating environment. I remember the smell of the incense and also of the food in the kitchen. My aunt was a cook so I would spend time with her in the kitchen. Sometimes she would prepare holy bread. I would get the scrap pieces. Bagful actually, to take back home.  I ate a lot of scraps of holy bread during my childhood.  Before it gets transformed into the flesh of the holy Christ mind you.  It did not at all turn me into a devotee of the church. Quite the contrary.  I really liked the general peaceful atmosphere of the Maison-mère and I recall the kindness of the nuns, the whispered conversations and the overall quietness. And everything shined.  There were no other children around as it was not a school and I would receive a lot of attention during my short stays and I likely appreciated that.   

But some of the paintings and artwork really puzzled me because they included naked angels. That kind of made me feel uncomfortable. The images were very nice and I did not really understand why, but I felt a strange malaise looking at them and there were many and everywhere.  Perhaps because although they were naked, it was impossible to determine the sex of these angels? There were naked angels on the walls and on the ceilings.  There were statues of naked infants of all sizes on the tables, on pedestals in the hallway, in the grand salon.  Everywhere except in the kitchen. 

I find it difficult to conciliate that we find within churches so much artwork that depicts naked bodies of infants and how members of those institutions condemn nudity entirely outside of their walls. Also in practical terms, I wonder how praying immersed and surrounded in images of naked babies and children with wings and without sexes impacts on the subconscious of worshippers. Could it be one of the reasons why so many priests, brothers and nuns abused children? Perhaps it seems totally normal to them after being exposed to what could be perceived as an insidious form of pornography ? I wonder what a psychiatrist or a psycho-analyst would think of that. I know that I started to make too many connections and ask questions difficult to answer at an early age and I maintained a downward path in that regard. And I tend to blame a lot of ills on catholic values.  Maybe I ate too much holy bread.  I really preferred the sucre à la creme my aunt also made.