“Love Mosaic” acrylic on canvas © 2016 by Donna Gonzalez
February is here, for us Michiganders it usually means another 6 to 8 weeks more of wintery snow..ugh! But it’s also a time for cherishing your loved one(s) with love, affection, long stem roses, chocolates and candy in celebration of Valentine’s Day!
Some historians claim this holiday was the Church’s “Christianization” of the pagan Roman fertility and health festival Lupercalia, observed February 13-15th. It had its roots at least as far back as 44 BC. However; did you know there really was a man by the name of Valentine?
Though there are several versions of his life, and it’s not historically clear which hagiography is most accurate, the story goes that Valentine (Latin Valentius) was a Christian priest and former bishop of several towns in Umbria Italy during the 3rd century of Rome under emperor Claudius II. Claudius had banned his soldiers from marrying as he thought single men made better soldiers due to not being hindered on the battlefield because of strong affections.
Despite the Emperor’s edit, Valentine continued to perform marriages of young soldiers who were in love in secret. The Emperor found out about this and had him arrested and imprisoned. Some accounts accredit Valentine in the healing of the jailer’s blind daughter others that he fell in love with her and wrote a card to her signing it, “Love, your Valentine.”
Other versions accredit Valentine in proselytizing many to the Christian faith, defied the Emperor by helping Christians escape the torture and persecution by the Romans, and unsuccessfully convince the Emperor to embrace Christianity. Claudius II refused commanding Valentine to either renounce his faith in Christ or to be beaten with clubs and beheaded. Valentine stayed true to his faith in Christ and was martyred on February 14, 269 AD.
Which brings me to why I’m so excited to share with you about this beautiful artwork above entitled “Love Mosaic”. What you are looking at is an abstract mosaic artwork representing God’s love. It is made up of 16 individual mosaics put into this unique pattern and based upon I Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails…”
Iconography and hidden symbols:
A large cross in the center of the mosaic.
Pairs of hearts each with its own reflected heart.
There are large “X”s and “O”s …
and four smaller pairs of “Xs” and “Os”…
There are 2 pairs of smaller crosses originating from the horizontal crossbeam of the central cross.
Four small butterflies at the edges of the mosaic.
So…how does all of these hidden images within this mosaic relate to Valentine’s Day and I Corinthians 13:4-5? Much actually! There is so much richness in this mosaic!
We know that love originates from God our Father, the cross is where He demonstrated His great love.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:8
“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
The heart of course is the universal symbol of love, in this mosaic there are two pairs of large hearts connected to the horizontal crossbeam of the main cross. Each mirrored pair extending downward symbolizes God’s immense love towards us, and the upward pairs represents our hearts raised towards Heaven in gratitude for all He’s done for us.
The large “X’s” and “O’s” represent God’s lovingkindness and compassion. The smaller ones represent our love towards each other.
22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Jesus speaking… 27 “He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
The two smaller crosses represents the believer’s position in Christ. The hearts within the crosses symbolizes obedience to Jesus’ new command.
20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Just as a butterfly is an entirely new creature beyond the lowly caterpillar, likewise when a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation for the forgiveness of sins, they are translated from death to life, from darkness into His glorious light. Those who’ve been transformed by God’s love are like the butterfly flying outwards beyond the painting, compelling others to be reconciled back to God.
Jesus is speaking…. 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17
20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” II Corinthians 5:20
Jesus paid an enormous price to secure our salvation. Like saint Valentine we too ought to love Christ beyond measure, beyond what anything this world has to offer, despite any suffering, hardships, or persecution and to remain faithful to Christ even unto death.
11 “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11
We are commanded to love others the way He does, meaning with patience, kindness, without envy, without being boastful or prideful. We show our love by putting others needs first, and without getting easily angered. And like Jesus’ great loving-kindness in forgiving us and not counting our wrongs against us, likewise; we too are to show forgiveness to one another without keeping a record of how they have wronged us.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails…” I Corinthians 13:4-8.
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day may our hearts and minds be renewed in Christ, to love others as He loves us. May this post encourage and bless you in your walk with Christ!
Below is a Slideshow of the hidden symbols in this mosaic artwork.