Left panel

The morning star (one of the self-assertions of Christ). This is a fractal image, a virtual form derived from mathematics. The invisible becomes visible. Fractal forms (in which each part resembles the whole) are ubiquitous in nature, in the spatial configuration of objects, as well as in the evolutionary dynamics of complex adaptive systems which share characteristics of chaotic systems (i.e. systems in which, building on simple structures, a more complex reality develops). According to heraldic tradition, a star symbolises the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and of the Church itself, which is why it appears in the coat of arms of Pope Francis.

Polyptypch I

Central panel

Two figures sharing a meal, in an interior setting: Jesus in the company of someone who has opened the door to Him welcomingly and invited Him for supper. This is the scene I originally envisioned. Yet, though faithful to John’s words (Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”), it seemed to me somewhat theatrical and lacking in pathos; I did not find it entirely convincing in spite of its undeniable symbolic strength. I therefore spontaneously decided to replace it with another scene – one of the most moving in the Gospels: the moment when John, “the Beloved Disciple” (to whom Jesus sends Mary, who thus becomes his Mother) leans his head on Jesus’ bosom (John 13: 23-25). In this way, Jesus conveys to John – from the heart to the head – knowledge of the path to redemption, which will take place at the end of time (Saint Paul, too, was struck down by light and knowledge), thus transforming him, from the rough diamond he was (Jesus referred to him as the “son of thunder”, because of his impetuosity) into a perfect man in the New Jerusalem, like Adam before the Fall. In passing, we may note that John is the disciple who left us the most writings, including the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse – the visionary whose emblem is a soaring, sharp-eyed eagle, and his Gospel, which can arguably be considered “the Gospel of Love”, expresses both the loftiest and deepest aspects of Christian doctrine.

The way in which, in this image, Jesus rests his hand on his chest is also reminiscent of the “pelican of the wilderness” who tears open her breast with her beak in order to feed her young with her own blood (a well-known symbol of Christ’s sacrifice). The blood of Jesus is indeed evoked by the deep red colour of his shirt, which also brings to mind the biblical “clothing washed in wine” (Genesis 49:11) and whose folds are a metaphor for the folds of Jesus’ wounded heart. Through this image of Love, Jesus shows us that it is our task to comfort all the men and women with whom we share life on Earth (like the Good Shepherd, who is instructed by the Father to lay down his life for the sheep – John 10: 11:18).

My friend Jean Emile Henri Dania and his son Kristen Michael served as models for this “Paternitas” filled with tenderness (their Oriental features recall the figures in the paintings of Piero della Francesca, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Lorenzo Monaco or Giotto himself). This  visually powerful image brings to mind the Almighty Pantokrator gazing down from the apse of some remote Romanic church amid the mountains of lovely Catalonia; or one of the magical paintings of self-tormented Caravaggio, an artist who, like the lotus flower, sank his feet into the foulest human mire in order to flourish forth in works which are a miracle of beauty, a veritable celebration of light evocative of Jesus’ final victory over death (from ancient Egypt through to mediaeval mysticism, light was regarded as God’s gaze).

Lower panel

The garden of my home. The Tree of Life in the Garden of God. Paradise lost (with Adam and Eve and their sin, in Genesis, at the beginning of the Bible) and Paradise regained (at the end of the Bible, in Revelation, with the advent of the New Jerusalem).

Central caption:

“Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3: 20-22)

∞ ∞ ∞

Right panel

A man (my brother Rodolfo Häsler, who is a poet) clothed in white, with a dazzling, radiant effect, for “the fine linen, bright and clean” stands for his “righteous acts”: This is the man who is delivered from all tribulation. In Daniel 12:3 we read: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above”. The chosen are clothed with robes “made white with the blood of the Lamb”, which is also an allusion to baptism, i.e. being “washed in the blood of Christ”. The “Chosen” holds in his hands an open book which radiates a bright glow (in addition to displaying a circular shape on its cover – a reference to the seven seals that formerly prevented access to the Book’s contents). He knows God’s plan, for he is part of it. His flesh, permeated with the silvery tone of the background, alludes to the new way in which, at Resurrection, the soul will be reunited to the body. The way the Chosen gazes fixedly at the book, as if “devouring it with his eyes”, reminds us of the episode (Revelation 10: 1:11) in which John of Patmos eats the small book given to him by an angel – a very physical means of expressing the assimilation of its contents.


The twelve other polyptychs also have their respective explanatory texts in the book.

view the 13 altarpieces
learn more about the audiovisual show
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