In 2014 at the Rimini Meeting I was moved by an exhibition of the work of French artist Francois Millet marking the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Millet appreciated the simplicity and beauty of peasant life and labour, and many of his works depict the poor at work in the field and home.

Before Millet, the centre of an artist’s canvas was usually reserved for the heroes of history. Breaking this norm, and understanding the godliness of human labour, Millet gives labourers centre stage and highlights human labour as an opportunity to participate in divine life.

Perhaps the best-known of Millet’s works is the image above known as the Angelus. The scene comes to life easily for those who realise that the distinctive 3,3,3,9, Angelus ring of the distant church bell has prompted these field workers to drop everything at the first chime (as would be their habit), and to begin to pray: “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”

The image is appropriate for today the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve as you can hear in this brief clip.

10 Responses to "Angelus"
  1. That was beautiful, I have that picture above were I sit in my lounge my daughter gave it to me. I do remember the times when we said the Angelus, lovely memories.

  2. Yes it really is a beautiful prayer. Thank you Father John for reminding us of it. How blessed we are that God loves us all, however sinful and humble we are.

  3. I wish to thank you of reminding me of the Angelus. At the Convent that I went to in the forties we had the Angelus Bell ring every day in Class or where ever the Nuns were we said the “Angelus”. My days there were very special & lovely. I thank the Lord for all they did for me & they worked very hard for all of us.
    A Blessed Christmas Father John you are an inspiration

  4. Millet’s Angelus has long been a favourite painting of mine. On a trip to Paris last year, I made the point of visiting the Musee d’Orsay in the hope of seeing the original. As we walked into the museum and not knowing where the painting was hanging, it was the first painting I saw as if something was leading me directly to it. I could hardly believe it. The painting always spoke to me as an icon of living one’s working faith on a daily basis no matter how busy we are. There is always time for God.

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