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Smart Museum of Art
French, 1604-78
(after Jacques Stella, French, 1632-77)
Faith Combating Heresy with the Divine Light of the Holy Spirit, title page to Conciliorum omnium generalium et provincialium, collectio regia, 1644

This engraving, which opened a 37-volume work describing the various councils of the Church, reveals in no uncertain terms the source of ecclesiastical authority. Saint Peter, Godís vicar and the first pope, appears at the top of the image as a statue in a niche. He gestures down toward the papal tiara, which rests on an altar along with the books of the faith and a set of keys just like his. Divine order and a fixed hierarchy, the image suggests, are what keep chaos at bay.

©2001 The University of Chicago