Illustrations of Gospel Stories,
from Jerome Nadal, S.J.,
available at ILLUSTRATIONS OF GOSPEL STORIES
Mary Magdalene anoints Jesus' feet.The Author and His Books:
Jerome Nadal (1507-1580), a Spaniard from Majorca, was one of the first ten members of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). For many years, he served as the personal representative or "delegate" of the Founder, Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), in visiting Jesuit Houses throughout Europe, especially to explain and implement the Constitutions of The Society of Jesus.
Ignatius urged Nadal to compile and distribute an illustrated guide for Prayerful meditation on The Gospels, in the tradition of The Spiritual Exercises, although the work was not completed until after both men had died. Nadal selected the Biblical scenes to be included, commissioned and directed the layout of the illustrations, and composed Notes to accompany each scene. With the co-operation and support of Antwerp publishers Christophe Plantin and Martinus Nutius, 153 engravings were eventually produced by Bernardino Passeri, Marten de Vos, and Jerome and Anton Wierix.
In 1593, these illustrations were published in a volume entitled Evangelicae Historiae Imagines ("Illustrations of the Gospel Stories"), arranged in chronological order of The Life and Ministry of Jesus. In 1594 and 1595, they were again published in larger volumes, entitled Adnotationes et Meditationes in Evangelia ("Notes and Meditations on The Gospels"), with more extensive accompanying Text, and rearranged according to the order of Readings used in The Liturgical Year, as prescribed in The Roman Missal. (See the Bibliography for details about Nadal's books. See also the Web-Page on The Roman Missal.)
These books became very influential in Counter-Reformation Europe, since the illustrations were among the first to use the new techniques of "perspective drawing," which more realistically depicted three-dimensional shapes in two-dimensional drawings, such as used in the scientific drawings of the day. These techniques made The Gospel Stories much more vibrant and realistic, and thus more effective as aides for Evangelisation and Meditation. The influence of these engravings can clearly be seen in the work of later Bible illustrators, such as Gustave Dore.