Vatican City: Vatican Museum: Belvedere Apollo (2nd century Roman copy of 4th century BC bronze sculpture of artist from Attica)
Beautiful, ruthless, and cruelly imperturbable, Apollo performed precisely this cool seduction on his ancient worshipers; he was a healer as well as a destroyer, and hence not to be resisted. Although Winckelmann responds to the ancient god's image with an aesthetic rather than a religious rapture, the Apollo Belvedere had stood in the Vatican for more than two centuries in part because Apollo was seen as a forerunner of Christ, the brilliant son of God who comes to earth in a burst of light. In a real sense, Winckelmann's reverie before the statue is a spiritual exercise, a disciplined journey of senses and imagination in the tradition, if not to the purposes, of Ignatius Loyola, and it captures the continuing religious significance of a work of art that has embodied something more than human for two thousand years. "In gazing upon this masterpiece of art, I forget all else, and I myself adopt an elevated stance, in order to be worthy of gazing upon it," he wrote. "My chest seems to expand with veneration and to heave like those I have seen swollen as if by the spirit of prophecy, and I feel myself transported to Delos and to the Lycian groves, places Apollo honored with his presence -- for my figure seems to take on life and movement, like Pygmalion's beauty."LinkI seem to do this a lot. Take something of beauty from a different culture and submit it to the truth of Christ. It seems to me that we are not just called to convert the masses but the culture as well.