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Beato Angelico

Fra Angelico (Vicchio, Italy, around 1395 – Rome, 1455), Noli me tangere, around 1440-41, 180 cm x 146 cm, fresco, Florence, Museo di San Marco

It's a garden indeed, the place where they had buried him! There are flowers and plants, slanting their branches to the sky. The place is divided by a fence that marks the boundary and, on the left, the new tomb, open. At the centre are the two characters who are the protagonists of the scene. Let us observe them. Better, let us contemplate them.

Jesus, on the right, has a hoe on his shoulder: Mary had mistaken him for the gardener! His feet are crossed, as if to hint at a dance move! Mary, on his right, is on her knees and wrapped in her beautiful red dress. She recognised him and would like to embrace his feet. But now, in this new time of Resurrection, she is tasked with announcing to the disciples, still frightened in the Upper Room, that Jesus is alive, that she has seen and recognised him!

Following the Gospel narrative, this encounter between Jesus and Mary is the first after the Resurrection. It is a crucial encounter not only for Mary, but for the whole small apostolic group, and, in perspective, for the whole Church that will be born, grow and develop from their preaching.

Not only that, it is crucial for the whole history of salvation. How can we fail to notice that the splendour of the garden reminds us of another garden, that "paradise" in which Adam was placed after his creation? And the hoe that Jesus carries on his shoulder almost seems to be the overcoming of the curse that fell upon the first man, after his sin, when he was banished "from the garden of Eden, to work the ground from where he had been taken" (Gen 3:23).

From this moment begins the time of the Church, the time of the Gospel, the time of the happy announcement that Jesus rose from the dead. And Mary Magdalene, almost immobile in front of so much grace, will be breathlessly rushing, shortly afterwards, to tell what she has seen. And absolutely nothing can be the same as before!

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