The Bonnie Prince

This painting of Christ the King given the Honours of Scotland was commissioned by Father Michael Mary from the monastery island in Papa Stronsay, the Orkney Isles, in Scotland.  You can visit the blog of the Transalpine Redemptorists here.

The idea was to depict the Royal Child emerging from the darkness, the mystery and the mist of the Highlands in all His beauty.  As you can see in the painting, the Christ Child wears the Royal Stuart Tartan, and on His head is the crown of Scotland.  He sits on the coronation stone (The Stone of Scone) which was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland.  His hand is raised in blessing and as in the style of the Most Holy Redeemer, He holds the Cross on His left side.  His Sacred Heart is visible - the high point of the manifestation of His Kingship.  He bears the marks of His crucifixion.  Around Him are the Highlands of Scotland known for its grey skies and mist, and towards the edge of the painting the Royal Scottish Standard is visible.

Below is the text to the hymn canonically approved by the Bishop of Aberdeen:

Hymn to the Bonnie Prince
(Tune:  Auld Lang Syne –Robert Burns)

1. Let folly praise that fancy loves,
    I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word,
    Whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best,
    All praise and love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live,
    And cannot live amiss.

2. Love's sweetest mark, land's highest theme,
    Man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death,
    To live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt,
    Thus each to other due,
First Friend He was, best Friend He is,
    All times will try Him true.

3. Though young yet wise, though small yet strong,
    Thou man yet God He is;
As wise He knows, as strong He can,
    As God He loves to bless:
His knowledge rules, His strength defends,
    His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light,
    His death our end of thrall.

4. Alas, He weeps, He sighs, He pants!
    Yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs,
    Doth bud a joyful spring.
O Bonnie Prince, whose tender arms  
    Can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life,
    Direct me when I die.

[Slight adaptation of the hymn: Let Folly Praise What Fancy Loves
by St Robert Southwell, S.J. martyred at Tyburn, 21 February, 1595.]


Joe Oliveri said...

Handsomely done, Anthony -- and congratulations on the commission. The Transalpine Redemptorists have always been a fascinating (and hardy!) confraternity.

I'm probably wearing my ignorance on my sleeve here, but this may be the first instance I can recall of seeing the Christ Child with the wounds of the Crucifixion. Is this imagery common in Scottish tradition?

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Thanks, Joe! And welcome.

I don't believe it is common imagery in Scottish tradition, but I do recall the accounts of several mystics concerning the wounds in this fashion. I know it can be hard to see and perhaps that reality is important. The painting was done to Fr. Michael's specifications (that the Christ Child should be depicted as the Most Holy Redeemer which means He would bear the sacred marks), but I know for myself the aspect of the wounds has a feeling of eternity. From beginning to end if that makes sense.

Jason Peck said...

Hey Anthony,

Beautiful work, I love the colors in this piece, well done.


Anthony VanArsdale said...

Thanks, Jason!

Mary MacArthur said...

I love this! I love images of the Christ Child with the Wounds, I love the Stewarts, I love Scottish things! Amazing!

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Thanks Mary!

Anonymous said...

I love my wee Bonnie Prince. Received a copy, framed it and is now hung in my dinning room.