The World’s Greatest Dad

Elizabeth Lev explores the virtues of fatherhood as depicted in the works of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682).

Famous for his Madonnas, Murillo was a pioneer in the depiction of the greatest earthly father, St. Joseph.

In order to convey the character of the man Christ chose to educate him in the virtuous of manhood, “Murillo rejected the painterly precedent of portraying Joseph as an old, decrepit man, depicting him with dark flowing hair and strong youthful features bearing a striking resemblance to the mature Jesus.”

As a result, Murillo’s paintings help us to meditate on several “paternal qualities,” including “vigilance, devotion, playfulness, loyalty, and forgiveness.”

May they renew in us our gratitude for all the virtues our fathers have taught us, in loving service to the heavenly Father.

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