The 19th Eucharistic Congress has as its theme: “I am with you always,” which comes from the Gospel of Matthew 28:20.
Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis notes the integral connection between the love of Christ and the Eucharist, stating: “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s great love for us, a love which He showed us by His sacrifice on the cross for our salvation. Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist, and through the Eucharist He strengthens our charity.”
Bishop Jugis personally selected the artwork for the 2023 Eucharistic Congress holy card to illustrate this theme.
“The Ascension of the Lord” by Girolamo Muziano is an altarpiece in the Chiesa di Santa Maria in Vallicella, also called Chiesa Nuova, located in Rome. It is the principal church of the Oratorians, a religious order of priests founded by St. Philip Neri in 1561.
Muziano (1532-1592) was a prolific Italian painter who became the leading artist in Rome during the Counter-Reformation. He graduated from painting classical landscapes to grand Biblical figures in the style of Michelangelo, with attention to anatomical accuracy and dramatic proportion.
His fame grew, and even Michelangelo praised his work. Later in his career, Muziano served as superintendent of the works of the Vatican under Pope Gregory XIII.
This work, painted in 1575, depicts Jesus at His Ascension, with the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary looking up in wonder. With Our Lord’s peaceful face and hand outstretched in benediction, viewers can almost hear His parting words as He instructs the Apostles:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28-18-20).
— Catholic News Herald