Saint John, also known as Parsifal. Odilon Redon. 1912. Musée D'Orsay, Paris.
Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer...
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet 
Saint John. We first met in an exhibition room at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. His face, however, was not nearly so clear that day as the image above. In the museum it was clouded by fluorescent lighting, the colors and soft details shrouded by dim, blue light. But the poor lighting actually contributed to an atmosphere of mystery which was part of the wonder of encountering Redon's Saint John for the very first time. Encounter would be the right word here. Or maybe collision is even better.
I circled through the d'Orsay numerous times, leaving Saint John behind to visit other exhibitions -- only to find my way back, time and again, to Redon's visionary world. What was it that kept calling me back? The answer is at the heart of great art and great artists, the idea of pointing to something unseen, something transcendent, something beyond words and ideas. And that is what I experienced while colliding with Saint John and Redon.
Saint John, also known as the beloved disciple, was a fisherman and a disciple of John the Baptist before joining the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The New Testament portrays him as a favorite of Christ, the only disciple who stayed with him during the crucifixion, and the one who promised to honor Christ's request to care for his mother Mary. John was the only disciple to survive into old age, dying of natural causes at the age of 94. He is the patron saint of writers and his feast day is December 27.
According to church tradition, John is the author of several New Testament writings: the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. However, there is disagreement among modern scholars as to the authorship of the Book of Revelation. In this debate, there is a distinction drawn between the Apostle John and the John of Patmos, who is the author of Revelation.