The Four Armed, Three Eyed Monster of the Year of Mercy Logo isn’t Catholic

Year of Mercy Logo 2015Earlier this week, on May 5 (5/5/15), certain Vatican apparatchiks unveiled the Year of Mercy logo for the Jubilee Year of Mercy and included a lot of fodder regarding what they see as the symbolism of the image. The image is at the right. Vatican Radio reported on the unveiling and put a lot of emphasis on the word “re-awakening”. See the full article “Jubilee Year of Mercy: a re-awakening for all Christians.”

Here is how Vatican Radio summarized the meaning of the Year of Mercy and introduced the logo: “The press conference in the Vatican saw the unveiling of the logo for the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy portraying the figure of the Good Shepherd carrying the lost soul that provides a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. Similarly, it’s [sic] motto, Merciful like the Father, serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of God who asks us not to judge or condemn but to offer love and forgiveness instead.”

[grammar errors/typos in the original]  When you look at that picture is that what you see?

The “OFFICIAL” explanation of the Year of Mercy Logo

I wasn’t satisfied with that, so I also looked to the more in depth report available from the official Vatican News source — at least that’s what they assure me of in the site header, and it is actually vatican.va website address. Jackpot! There’s a long quote with lots of interesting information [read: blather] there.  Here’s what we get as the explanation for this thing:

We begin with the logo which represents a summa theologiae of the theme of mercy and the motto which accompanies it. The motto Merciful Like the Father (from the Gospel of Luke, 6:36) serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure. The logo is the work of Father Marko I. Rupnik. It is an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon His shoulders the lost soul, demonstrating that it is Christ’s love that brings to completion the mystery of His incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love that has the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in His great mercy, takes humanity upon Himself, His eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, his or her own humanity and the future that lies ahead. The scene is enclosed in a mandorla, an element typical of ancient and medieval iconography, that recalls the coexistence of the two natures, divine and human, in Christ. The three concentric ovals, with colours progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ Who carries humanity out of the darkness of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker colour suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father Who forgives all.

source:  news.va

A Summa Theologiae it is not, at least not from our Church

Whoa!?  what? a “summa theologiae” of mercy?  What?!?!  [biting my tongue and suspending judgment momentarily]  I read the rest and see who the author was, and bunch of tripe and get to the weird “His eyes are merged with man.” and then a long discussion of the mandorla. Christian uses of the mandorla are to represent the coming together of Heaven and Earth that Jesus’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection opened for us mortal men. It’s the blue oval typical of icons of Our Lord, such as here:

resurrection 03

You can see that influence in the jubilee year of mercy logo. Even down to the black blocks that kind of look like the tops of the graves trampled under Jesus’s feet. After all, Jesus is God and He conquered death (we don’t). But the real difference between the Resurrection icon and the Year of Mercy logo is the selection of people in relation to Our Lord. In icons of the resurrection, people are always being grabbed and lifted up by Our Lord. After all, He is God and we are not. The Year of Mercy logo has this body draped over the shoulders of Our Lord in a way that makes it difficult to discern whether there are two people there, or if this is some sort of monster.

The worst part of the logo is what catches your eye first:

year of mercy third eye

That’s disturbing. Mostly because it is unnatural.

I’m not sure what bothers me more:  the unnaturally large eyes, or the intentional melding of the eyes to make a “third eye” as it were. Whatever else it is, this year of mercy logo does not strike me that this is an image of Our Lord. I don’t know who it is, but I don’t get the sense that this is Jesus.

Is it Jesus? The Year of Mercy Logo is as ambiguous as Speaking in Tongues

Testing this theory, I decided to show these two pictures to children and ask them who they saw. Granted, I have a very small sample set, and I don’t want to make anyone think this was an in-depth study of any sort. Rather, it was just a quick test of my reaction. I showed the image of the Resurrection and asked a child who was in the picture. Everyone one of the few kids I asked said, “that’s Jesus.”  fair enough. So each of them can recognize Jesus.

Then, I showed the jubilee year of mercy logo and asked them who was in the picture. One child said, “monster.”  Another “I don’t know” and another said “wrestlers.”  Only one child thought it might be Jesus, but asked me if it was in fact Jesus. I said I wasn’t sure myself and asked them which picture they liked better, and they said the Resurrection icon. So, the one result that it might be Jesus makes this logo kind of like people blathering about in so-called “speaking in tongues.”  Only those who are believers of the phenomenon think it’s a good thing. Others, who use their reason, such as linguists, try to discern what is being said and hear statements resembling blasphemies. At the end of the day, those who speak in tongues look down upon, as something less than them, those who expect language to communicate. So it is with post-modern art. If you expect the art to convey natural form, then you are not illumined with the higher skills they claim to possess.

Art, in Church history, conveys natural meaning. Icons do as well. Natural meaning means people look like people.

Certain Bloggers give us permission to Use our Minds

Unlike Simcha Fischer, I don’t need her permission to criticize something. It was very gracious of her to permit us to criticize it, but I don’t need anybody’s permission to use my reason.  God expects me to use it, in fact. It may not be prudent for me to say what my reason concludes, but that’s a different question than whether I am allowed to think. Also, unlike this professed theologian and lover of byzantine icons, any person with an elementary knowledge of icons knows that the representation written in icons is literal. Thus, people are never represented with three eyes. Jesus looks like Jesus well enough that children recognize Him. I asked someone I know who is an orthodox iconographer, and his response was [with tongue somewhat in his cheek], “is outrage! anathema!”  So much for whether this year of mercy logo is good in terms of iconography.

So, we are left with an image that has some loose connection to something religious, but even children can’t identify it. I think the suggestion of Frank Weathers to look into real Church history and find some beautiful artwork is one good answer.

If this is the Summa, then from what Religion?

I decided instead to try and find who this really was on the logo. If children don’t even know who it is, is it possible to find out? I started with what I saw on the jubilee year of mercy logo:  “two heads, three eyes, and four arms.”   I googled that.

First result from wikipedia was an entry for the Hindu God “Shisupala”  wow.  He was born with three eyes and four arms. this is promising! Here’s an image I found looking around for images:

kali kills shisupala print

Three eyes? check.

Four arms? check.

It even has the same blue color and the oval around it.  Wait…  further reading reveals that the blue guy in that print is the Hindu god Kali. So maybe the child that saw a monster on the logo meant that Kali might be the two headed creature on the logo?  hmmm.  I wasn’t convinced that the logo is representing Kali.  So I searched some more.

I found a page from 2009 where young grade school French children were asked to draw monsters, and it appeared because this little boy drew a happy monster with two heads and many arms.  I want to stress that this is a happy monster, so it probably is like a merciful one:

IMG_3661

Well done! that one actually looks kind of like the one in the logo! I still thought we might be missing out, so I looked some more. I found images of another Hindu god, Surya, who is depicted as a red man with three eyes and four arms.

I am reasonably satisfied that even though the Church has depicted some saints as having the heads of dogs (which I’ve reported on before), there is no real tradition IN THE CATHOLIC symbolon of sharing an eye, or having a third eye, with God. I can only find references of sharing an eye with God in gnostic, buddhist, and occult references. The third eye is used in occult religions as a reference for someone who has awakened…  Wait, the Vatican radio piece I linked to above used that word “re-awaken”. I’m positive it has no connection to the occult and gnostic references of awakening the third eye or anything, though.

The only other place I can find that as an idea is when children draw intentionally deformed images of monsters.

So, my gut is correct:  this year of mercy logo is a monstrosity. That’s a shame. The Vatican apparatus seems to think this logo is a “summa theologiae” of mercy. cough  from what religion? if children can’t even recognize the essence of it, it’s not right.

There is a beautiful thing intended in the Year of Mercy, to send out missionaries to those “on the existential ‘peripheries’ of society.”  That’s a nice thing. We want that. But this jubilee year of mercy logo doesn’t show Jesus going there, but that we are sending some three-eyed, two headed monster. That’s not nice. We should send something beautiful that reflects the real Mercy of God. Something that even children recognize as Jesus.

I think they should scrap this logo. Get rid of it. Use something that actually depicts Our Lord Jesus instead.


This article, The Four Armed, Three Eyed Monster of the Year of Mercy Logo isn’t Catholic is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
https://bellarmineforum.org/2015/05/09/the-four-armed-three-eyed-monster-of-the-year-of-mercy-logo-isnt-catholic/
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

About John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benzinger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.

    • Fortunately, this is typical of the bureaucracy in the vatican. there’s always been at least one apostle that had bad taste since the beginning (Judas). So, I’m not taking this as earth shattering, but wanted to point out that this logo is not a “summa theologiae” of mercy by any stretch — not a Catholic one at least.

  • While I don’t agree with everything posted in the blog, I do have to say that when I first saw it, the first thing that grabbed my eye was the part with the two heads and the halo around the head that is supposed to be Jesus’. But my mind immediately connected it to the body of a snake, such as a scarlet king or particularly a poisonous one like a coral…

    • Wow. Now that’s something new. I haven’t heard anyone say snake, yet. But now that you say that, The wisps of the beard do sort of curl out like a forked tongue. Interesting!

  • “I see a darkness in you” — from the Game of Thrones, referring to the 3-eyed raven, an occult image of “future vision”; here’s a link to the image of the 3-eyed Raven, 3 eyes are the logos. This was created about the same time that the artist of the monstrous “Year of Mercy” icon was being created. http://www.threeeyedraven.com/#!/
    Thanks so much for this commentary on an image that appears to have undergone an interception by the Illuminati before the event had even begun — rather like the white dove being hit by a raven in front of St Peter’s in Rome last year. Ugh.

    • so there is a three-eyed raven on the Game of Thrones series? Now that’s interesting. I had no idea.

      • Yes, there is a 3-eyed raven and the more you look at the images from Game of Thrones, the more convincing is the possibility that the artist had just this in mind on the unfortunate day that he took up his illustrating pen for the Year of Mercy. Google in the search words, Game of Thrones, three-eyed raven and check out the many images that are there, including the poses for the raven’s head — like the 3-eyed monster of the “icon” for the Year of Mercy. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

  • “Unlike Simcha Fischer, I don’t need her permission to criticize something.” This sentence is incoherent and uncalled for.

    • The title of the blog post linked is “The Year of Mercy logo stinks. Here’s why it’s okay to say so.” The rest of that post is an apologia of some notion of a “Christian critic” with some seemingly arbitrary rules of when it is deemed OK to criticize. Saying that is it “okay to say so” is a statement of permission. I guess I take offense to the notion that we are not supposed to speak our minds freely.

      Frankly, there’s nothing morally wrong with someone who says “I don’t like it.” The Christian is no less Christian for speaking what is on their mind. Yet, if I take the title and content of that post, it suggests that we need permission to speak our mind. That seems different than the standard of speech given by Jesus, “make your yes mean yes and your no mean no.” You are right — that seems incoherent.

      P.S. — I’m sure she doesn’t think she needs permission to criticize something, but that blog post seems to suggest it is needed.

      • You’re confused. Saying “It’s okay to do something” is not automatically the same as granting permission. Granting permission is a performative function of language; explaining why it’s okay to do something is a declarative function of language.

        Some people have scruples or objections to doing things that are, in fact, okay to do. Explaining for the benefit of such people why their scruples or objections are misplaced is not granting permission, it’s an act of kindness to the confused.

        • I have something to say, but I think I am supposed to go consult the internets for a checklist of whether it is okay to say it. be back in a bit… ttfn!

    • It’s certainly not unwarranted. Considering what she wrote in that post — and her reaction to other critics of the Vatican in recent memory — it’s fair game.

      Perhaps you should disclose your affiliation rather than just using your initials. Might make your defense (and bias) clearer.

    • Oh for heaven’s sake! Do not feed this troll! This little dog follows around anywhere his true love gets mentioned and troll, troll, trolls!

      We all know what that blog post said. She felt guilty criticizing, and needed to feel better about doing it, so she justified it, and in turn gave all of us permission to do the same. So both of you are correct.

      Don’t feed this Troll.

  • Thank you for writing this because I think it is really well done and well presented. I agree with you that it looks like a monster and does not look like Jesus.

  • I think this logo has been designed by someone who belongs to the NEOCATECHUMENAL sect. The leader of the sect, guru Kiko disguises as a Christian to provide equally disturbing ‘icons’, which have nothing to do with Christianity.
    I am afraid neocatechumens are a very powerful sect in the church….. sad!!!!

    • Annie, Yes… I keep hearing rumbles of strangeness around that group. I’ve also read many things that position clues from which people infer that the some of those founding and running the group are wolves in sheep’s costumes. And by wolf, they mean to refer to groups of the enemies of God. These sorts of things only appeal to people today because our bishops seemed to have abdicated and gutted our Church of authentic spirituality, as expressed in the language used in the liturgy, and in orthopraxis, such as so-called communion in the hand, etc… Fr. Hardon was clear that there are Judases in the Church. Whether this group is one of them requires some investigation. However, that there’d be gnostic overlays would be evidence tipping towards the wolf hypothesis… thank God tempus amnia revelat!

  • On a quick glance the guy on Jesus’ shoulders could be a collie. I never really liked the eyes on the popular Precious Moments dolls, and that’s what these remind me of. Ugh. I prefer the traditional depictions of Jesus like the Good Shepherd as a real shepherd.

  • I stumbled upon this while searching “Jesus shares eye”. Sounds bizarre I know but I was curious after my 6 year old daughter told me their deputy head teacher (we are in Northern Ireland) spoke to kids in my daughter’s year about how we share an eye with God. My initial reaction was what?!! Followed by uproarious laughter. She then explained that they were shown a picture of “Jesus in water carrying someone and there’s an eye in the middle”. I asked how the kids reacted to it and she said they shouted “that’s freaky!” I’m concerned about what the Catholic Church’s motives are when they ‘re-imagine the gospel through these depictions and essentially what kind of mumbo jumbo they’re planting into our children’s heads. Your article is spot on!

    • You know, somehow your comment escaped me when you posted it, T! Thanks be to God for the compliment and I am glad! God bless you too. Your site is interesting. People treat discussion of the occult as if it were conspiracy theories these days — the fact is, however, that up until even as late as the 60’s, it was typical and expected for there to be on scholar on the subject at or near seminaries, and major universities. They are too busy studying their navels and the fineries of felt adhesives these days, I think! Have you ever taken a look at Laurene Conner’s old article we reposted?

  • Hi, well not surprised born and raised in India. We see the impact of Yoga a form of meditation with the outer world and relm which is quite demonic is connected with hindu mythology and its Gods Shiva who is blueish man who has a 3rd eye closed and his female counterpart godess Kali. Whibis so similar. There is some kind of relationship going on in recent news we saw Godess kali was depicted in empire state building. And Natataja (an formation of shiva when is disturbed from meditation who is a dancer calms down only after blood shed )is ben depicted near CERN. And India merging out to be a super power. There is something going on !!!!

    • Hubert — thanks for the comment. Yes… that Kali’s dance of destruction was selected as the giant statue outside of CERN is bothersome… I would think even to a Hindu!!!!

  • Something your article doesn’t mention is the positioning of the legs, which is one of the things I found odd about the logo. Is Jesus supposed to be surfing? Climbing? Why that particular positioning of the legs – especially when, for a logo artist, every detail is very carefully chosen?

    The leg placement is identical to that of the Kali image.

    Any iconography experts out there? Is there any precedent for the logo’s placement of Jesus’ legs in Catholic iconography?

    • Thanks, Steve! Yes, I didn’t highlight that, but looking at it again, that is pretty strange as well.

  • While there are two heads in the logo what you saw and have presented is one head with three eyes (the Hindu image). The two are not the same. There is someone being carried whose head is of no doubt the other head, looking without biases. Therefore the only eyes Jesus is being portrayed as having are two since the third eye is on the other head, with that other person carried having one eye shared with Jesus. So it is wrong that there is any one person in the logo having two heads or three eyes.
    You must know that there is no image of Jesus. His images are the ones we create to present him in one or other fashions to bring home a message. In this case Christ is presented as looking with the same eye with a suffering person. To look with the same eye connotes sympathizing and being compassionate. This is what is portrayed. Note that iconography could be interpreted correctly yet differently from what is intended by the maker. You may be wrong to take your interpretation as what it is for the maker. So your comparison with the resurrection is wrong since it’s so only because that was what it is intended for it. One’s interpretation is wrong if it claims true for the designer while at variant with the designer’s interpretation.
    You are therefore wrong.

    • Thanks for your reply, Gideon. I disagree with you, however, because symbolism is a lexicon within itself. While it is true that symbols can be ambiguous, one would expect to have seen the symbol before. This, after all, is the “pattern” McLuhan refers to. While the artist may have intended something different, as is stated in the rationale from the Vatican, quoted in the article, we cannot ignore the symbols that came before it. I have not been able to find any icon, ever, from the Church’s rich history of iconography wherein two heads shared an eye. If you found one, please share! I’d like to see it.

      It is novel in the least. I wish it worked but I don’t think it does. You claim that makes me “wrong” however, I have two eyes and see what the image says. Are you saying that I should ignore what I see with my own eyes?

  • My initial reaction to the “Mercy” logo was an image of the old Hammer Horror films where a village is beset by evil and the old priest opens an ancient book with woodcuts of the devil leaping over a coven of satanists. It took some time to fathom out what was what and what belonged to whom in the picture. Speaking to friends, one had been struck by the bent horns on the head of the right hand figure, while another saw the horns as if the figure was standing partially obscuring a swastika which replaced the tradtional halo. Yet others have spoken of an obscure two headed monk, skiing or waterskiing.
    The most disturbing feature is those who have seen the third eye as an occult device or, combined with the extra arms, as part of the Hindu pantheon. Demons were often shown with extra heads, as in Ravenna who abducted Sita.
    Art? Perhaps. Art to fill the soul with the beauty of God and the woder of creation? No!

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