New art from Daniel Mitsui: Jesse Tree and St. Philip Neri

Daniel Mitsui occasionally sends me new pieces of art which he has created.  This time he sent me a large and complex image of the Tree of Jesse and a smaller image of St. Philip Neri as if a page of an Antiphonale.

For his site click HERE

Please excuse that I left these in the plastic.  Daniel wraps the prints carefully. He encloses them in plastic and then in layers of cardboard so that they are not damaged in the sending.  Whenever  I have received something from him, it has been flawless.  You can see a more accurate version at his website with the links, above.

The details are great.

Here is a little bit of the online description:

The Tree of Jesse is a visual elaboration of a prophecy of Isaiah: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root, applied to the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Its major figures are (from the top of the image) Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and David, all sitting on branches of the tree; and the sleeping Jesse, from whose body its trunk emerges. Seven doves representing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost surround Christ, in reference to Isaiah’s following words: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.

The genealogy of Jesus Christ, as given in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, lists forty men from Abraham to St. Joseph, divided into three groups of fourteen (evenly, if David is included in both the first and second divisions and Josiah in both the second and third).

Between the major figures in the central column I placed small scenes in quatrefoils that indicate the start, division and end of the list. Abraham and Isaac are the first names, so I drew the Sacrifice of Isaac, which the Fathers of the Church identified as a prefigurement of the Crucifixion of Christ. The starry sky in the scene refers to God’s promise to Abraham: Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for my sake, I will bless thee, and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heave.

The Transmigration into Babylon (which is the event separating the second and third divisions) appears in the quatrefoil above David. Specifically, I illustrated Zedekiah, King of Judah, blinded and chained. This seemed to me the best representation of the royal lineage taken into exile in Babylon (even though Zedekiah’s name is skipped in St. Matthew’s list).

Because the list ends with St. Joseph, I drew his espousal to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a way to connect the genealogy more securely to Mary and Christ. The scene follows traditional accounts of the event, with Joseph holding a flowering staff (that here resembles the flowering Tree of Jesse). One of the doves representing the Seven Gifts I drew in flight, above the quatrefoil to suggest also the dove that landed on Joseph’s staff to signify his election by God to be Mary’s spouse.


When you purchase one, and I hope you do, you should print the description and adhere it to the back of the framed image.

I am very interested in St. Philip Neri, co-patron of Rome with St. Peter.  He was the founder of the Oratory.  Oratories are spring up these day, surely as a response to a deeply felt need in a large swath of the Church.  I’ve thought about this myself.  But I digress.

Here is Daniel’s description:

St. Philip Neri was a priest of the 16th century. He was a native Florentine, but was most famous for his work in Rome, where he founded the Congregation of the Oratory. He was renowned for his piety, joyfulness and good humor.

The general composition of the picture is influenced by illuminated choir books from Florence, although the ornament is based on plants especially associated with Rome: stone pine, blood orange and artichoke.

There is a large initial letter P that dominates the page; inside it I drew the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to St. Philip in 1594. In the P’s downstroke I drew St. Philip, holding an alabaster tablet of St. John the Baptist’s head. This refers to an earlier vision, one of St. John the Baptist that St. Philip saw in 1550. (Also, I was once told that a Nottinghamshire alabaster of St. John’s head is in the collections of the Oratory in Rome; this was one discovered in the belongings of one of the defeated Turks after the Battle of Lepanto. [Cool.] How or why the Turk came to own it God only knows.)

My drawing includes also the words and chant neumes of the first verse of the hymn Pangamus Nerio.

Remember, this pic is still in the plastic.


A lovely gift for any of the priests or aspirants of the Oratory, not to mention anyone ordained on his Feast, and there are quite a few.  I am one.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    This is more than just art. I always think his art must be stunning when framed. It is just so beautiful, even through plastic! Mr. Matsui, you are like the monks of old, preserving the faith. Thank you for creating such beauty with Our Lord as the subject matter.

  2. Hidden One says:

    These are beautiful works of art. I do want to briefly note that it was not St. Philip himself, however, who is recorded as having seen a vision of St. John the Baptist, but rather a holy hermit whom the Saint consulted.

    [Some people would have chosen to write to the artist, ….]

  3. Frank H says:

    We recently bought one of his Sacred Heart images! Stunning!

  4. KateD says:

    It’s beautiful Father! Thank you for sharing this and introducing me to this fabulous artist!

  5. Pingback: SVNDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

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