The visitor of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana who, after having admired the famous Basket of fruit by Caravaggio and having stopped for a long time fascinated by the Cartoon for the School of Athens by Raphael, heads towards the Flemish Masters room, is surprised and almost forced to stop by a painting full of light and of grace, the Nativity by Federico Fiori, known as Barocci (about 1528 – 1612).
It is the Child – light that shines in the darkness – who illuminates the whole scene. Mary, the tota pulchra, not touched by any shadow of evil, is completely invested by his splendor. Further on, Joseph invites the shepherds to enter, pointing to the Child: it is to Him that they must turn if they want to enjoy that light.
Nobody should be excluded; not even, it seems, the animal world, in particular the ox in the foreground looking at the Child (and Mary) almost aware of the privilege that he has been given. All creation enjoys His splendor and reveals it.
Here is the wish: let us get close to Him in these days, as much as possible, and may our whole life be enlightened by Him.
Monsignor Marco Ballarini, Prefect of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana