Gift of tears

La lagrimas de San Pedro/The Tears of St Peter. MADRID, SPAIN.- ’The Tears of Saint Peter’, an oil painting by Spanish Baroque artist Diego Velázquez will be auctioned today at the Alcalá room. The work, which has belonged to the same family since the XIX century, will have a starting price of eight million euros. The painting was created when Velázquez was still a young painter, between 1617 and 1619, ’The Tears of Saint Peter’, measuring 132 x 98.5 centimeters, represents the full body of the apostle, seated on a rock. ’The Tears of Saint Peter’ can be compared to other perfectly documented paintings of the young Velázquez, created between the years 1617 and 1620, as the landscape resembles Velázquez’s ’Saint John the Evangelist’ and ’the Immaculate’ currently at the National Gallery of London. On August 2003, a resolution was passed in which the work was declared an ’Asset of Cultural Interest’. This forbids whoever owns the painting from taking it out of the country. The work was exhibited for the first time in Seville in 1999. One year later it was displayed in Bilbao; in the year 2001 it went to Rome, Italy and in 2002 to Murcia, back in Spain. The recent apparition of this painting is an important contribution to the catalogue of the earlier works of Diego Velázquez. Manuela Mena, Chief Curator of XVIII Century Painting and of Goya at the Prado Museum, was in charge of gathering and providing all the information on the work for the auction. MADRID, SPAIN. – “The Tears of Saint Peter”, by Diego Velazquez, remained unsold yesterday during the auction held in the Alcala auction house in Madrid. Its starting price was eight million euros. The painting which has been declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest” is not exportable.

The oil painting was offered at the auction presumably by one of its owners Juan Alvarez Mendizabal although it has been in the possession of various owners since the XIX century.

This was the second time that Velazquez’s painting was offered, and not sold, despite its being one of the few remaining paintings by the artist offered by private owners.

It was first exhibited in Seville in 1999 and unanimously accepted as an authentic painting dating back to his first works. The painting is thought to have been painted between 1617 and 1619. The composition was very popular when first presented, and there are many copies of it, one of which can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville.

Fr.-John8-2-14bartunek, lc
-by Fr John Bartunek, LC

“The Gift of Tears per se is not mentioned in the Bible, nor in the Catechism. It is a phenomenon mentioned in spiritual writers since very early in the Church, and it refers to an intense personal experience of God that overflows in abundant tears. It is the overflow of a spiritual experience in an emotional/physiological expression that creates deep comfort in one’s soul, and deep encouragement for the person who receives the gift, as well as (sometimes) for others who happen to witness it.

What This Gift Doesn’t Mean

Like all gifts of this sort (generally referred to as “charismatic” gifts, from the Greek, New Testament word for “gift”), it is freely given by the Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s wisdom. It can be given once or multiple times, or it can even recur throughout one’s life, though it certainly doesn’t have to. In itself, it is not an indication that someone has achieved a high level of holiness, nor does it directly create a higher degree of union with God. Rather, it is meant to encourage the person who receives it and those who witness it. In this sense, it can be a powerful stimulant to greater fidelity to God and God’s will in one’s life, a confirmation of good decisions already made, and shield against future temptations. If someone receives this gift, they should accept it gratefully and humbly, but not build their lives around it.

Supernatural vs. Natural Tears

This gift of tears differs from normal tears both in what triggers it (it is triggered by an experience of God, not by natural pain or sorrow or joy, for example), as well as in how it occurs physiologically – generally, these tears are abundant and are not accompanied by the usual kind of sobbing or the distortion of the facial muscles. So you can see that your instinct was right. Someone who has a particularly sensitive nature may often be moved to natural tears by beautiful spiritual realities. This can be a very good thing, but it may not be, strictly speaking, the same as the gift of tears. Likewise, someone may go through periods or moments when their natural sensitivity is heightened (by stress or exhaustion, for instance), and this could make them more susceptible to shed tears in response to normal emotional stimulation – perception of beauty, sorrow at sin, etc. This type of crying can be emotionally renewing and of great benefit for the person (crying releases many hormones and toxins that are known to reduce stress levels), even though it may not, strictly speaking, be the gift of tears.”