Augustine's Vision

Bruce Michael

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Hello Friends,
There is a painting in the National Gallery in London, depicting a vision:

Saints in Art: Chapter IV: The Fathers of the Church

The painting is by Garofalo (about 1476-1559):


"A picture frequently seen and known as the Vision of Saint Augustine illustrates the legend that, as the saint walked on the seashore, he saw a child who, having dug a hole in the sand, was filling it with water. When the saint asked the child what he did, the child replied that he intended to pour all the water of the sea into this hole.
When the saint assured him that such a task could never be finished, the child replied, "It is no more impossible to do this than for thee to comprehend and explain the mystery on which thou art meditating!""
Catherine of Alexandria sits behind Augustine with her eyes closed. Perhaps she has learnt the lesson, as she was said to have been learned in the sciences.

In the distance a priest (or a deacon), said to represent St. Stephen, stands holding a tray on which appears to be sea shells.

Augustine, who has had his head stuck in some books, has a look of disdain on his face as he looks around at the child Jesus. The painting does not appear to be sympathetic to Augustine at all. Jesus points out at the light-filled landscape, in which we could say divinity is living.

As to the symbol of water, I have posted a few times on this before.

Rabbi Brasch believes there could have been a mix up by an early copyist of Genesis.
Brasch suggests that the original may have been "in the beginning God created water and earth."

The letters shem and mem are similar as are the names for water and heaven.

Be Reeshit 1

A similar idea is given on another webpage:
" Skies and ground " are, in Hebrew, shamaïm (shem, " the NAME " ; maïm, " water "), and erets, " dryness ".
" In the principle God creates the wet one and dryness ", could one translate, by specifying that the wet one is heavy NAME, i.e. divine Verb which melts any thing.

Mayim: water. Shamayim: heaven.

The Hidden Structures of Water
Donmeh West - The Hidden Structures of Water

"Immediately we see that water "comes" from heaven -- in a sense, it
is "heaven" with two letters missing: Shamayim becomes Mayim -- which
is to say, "water" is equivalent to "heaven" -- but without the latter's first and third letters. Put another way, water is "heaven" without whatever the letters shin and yud represent. Or, conversely, "water" contains whatever the three letters it shares in common with "heaven" symbolize. Thus, the rain that falls from heaven, the "living water", the holy medium of spiritual
transformation, is an extraction of heaven yet lacking its full essence."

Hence it is no surprise how water was honoured for ablutions, Baptism
and used in Communion.