From Dust to Dust

Dr. Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Executive Director of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, reflects on Giovanni Martinelli’s Memento Mori: Death Comes to the Table for Ash Wednesday. On this day, many of us will attend Ash Wednesday services. A priest will dip his thumb into a small bowl containing the ashes of burnt consecrated palms from the previous year mixed with holy oil. He will then trace the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead. What a tangible reminder of our confidence in the Lord! As Christians, we do not turn and look over our shoulders at death with fear, but on the contrary, we walk straight toward it with faith, love, and joyful hope.

This Lent, ThinkND invites you to join FaithND and the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art for a journey of Lenten discovery through some of the most significant liturgical paintings in the Raclin Murphy collection, challenging you to contemplate prayer, fasting, sinfulness, mercy, grace, and God’s infinite love from the perspectives of the artist’s gaze. To subscribe to the FaithND Daily Gospel Reflection visit

Memento Mori: Death Comes to the Table, after 1630, Oil on canvas. Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Anonymous gift; gift of Mrs. Marilynn Alsdorf, by Exchange; Ernestine Morris Carmichael Raclin; Mr. and Mrs. Russell G. Ashbaugh Jr., ND ’48; Mr. Joseph Richard Skelton Funds, 1999.024.

For closer viewing of this work through the digital collections of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, please click here.

Art and HistoryReligion and PhilosophyAsh WednesdayDigest184FaithNDGiovanni MartinelliLentRaclin Murphy Museum of ArtUniversity of Notre Dame

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