St. Rictrudis, Speak to Me

Saint Rictrudis

When I visit art museums, I like to see if the art speaks to me.

Of course art is supposed to speak to us, in the more general sense.

But I want the people in the art to use real words. I tried to get a menopausal tip from this painting by Rembrandt. I hoped the hand poised near her abdomen was a sign she had something to say girl-wise, but alas, she did not speak.




Rictrudis, the lovely lady who resides in statue-form at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, was French and lived in the seventh century. She married Adalbald, a knight. Together, they produced four children.

But into every life, rain must fall. Rictrudis’s parents weren’t happy with the marriage, so they murdered Adalbald. Yep. Talk about conflict with the in-laws.

But Rictrudis didn’t let such tragedy curtail her energetic spirit. Defying pressure to remarry, she started a convent at Marchiennes and became the first abbess.

I stood in front of her. Our trip to the Nasher was my first venture into the world after cancer surgery. I’d spent the last three weeks mostly on the couch. Tonight the museum felt so real, so colorful, so filled with treasure, so alive.

Speak to me, St. Rictrudis.

Rien. Nothing.

My French is tres mauvais, so if she had used words, I wouldn’t have caught them anyway.

But beyond words, the look on her face and Rictrudis’s story tells me this: When life gets tough, the tough keep going. I knew that.

But it’s helpful to be reminded by a wooden lady carved centuries ago.


Another Shot

To learn more about Rictrudis and the work done to restore her statue, check out the article from the Nasher Museum of Art.

And BTW, I did have a statue smile at me. Cliff said the other day, “I thought you made it up!” No! This truly happened, albeit the sun was bright.

4 thoughts on “St. Rictrudis, Speak to Me”

  1. Looking back to your original post about these Rembrandt paintings, I noticed that Maria’s husband also had his hand posed in a similar, posed position. It was indeed similar, but placed higher than Maria’s. (Perhaps, just a common photographic style norm back then?) I actually don’t think that Maria’s hand position is perhaps quite far down enough to get to the “integral” feminine.

    But, going on to St. Rictrudis, this is indeed, inspiring. I once told my husband during all of the menopausal turmoil (during my angry moods (not so much verbal, but I did also stamp an angry foot like horses do (oh my!) that I would rather be in Kona nearly destitute weaving baskets by the sea for a living rather than deal with these perimenopausal feelings of upset (granted my perspectives were tainted and spoiled by the strange hormonal milieu of my perimenopausal mind and body!).

    Nevertheless, a nun’s life sounded llike a good alternative. Afterall, I had so much gravitated toward this way of being not just once in my life (okay, when I was thirteen, and then secondly when I was perimenopausal!)

    I love that you seek the art and the people behind the art to speak to you! I truly belieive, too, that this can happen!

    By the way, if I could imagine what Maria might have wanted to say as she was being painted with her rather stoic look, I thought it might be something like “Just please help me get the #@!! out of here as this pose and these clothes are unbearable!

    To life, to struggles and triumphs, to a holy respect for saints, and to all of the rest of us! Thanks, Barbara, for your open heart toward experience, and for sharing it with us all!

    1. I really like that this! What a great way to bring the “connection,” and “quest for knowledge” home!! I have often visited the museum shop and gotten prints, reproductions, or postcards to bring home. While viewing the original art may have a “magic” in and of its own, I’m sure this can be transferred to the reproductions, as well!
      Post Script to my earlier email: Yikes, I said “photographic style norm”, when I meant “painting style norm”! Judging from my several typos as well, this was written from the heart (albeit not proof-read!!)

      Anyways, I thought perhaps a further explanation of the grand “stomp” must be in order here, too! Women are not usually thought of as being okay people if they express or feel anger (sadly to say, because appropriately done this can lead to much better relationships with others). I had just read about how this dissipation of angry energy is so commonly done “instinctively” in children through stomping their feet, and in horses that might stomp a foot to dissipate their feelings of displeasure. This way the anger gets dissipated and not expressed perhaps in more destructive and negative ways!

      Truth is, we must forgive ourselves and others to move forward in life. Perhaps, this was one of the profound strengths of St. Rictrudis.

      1. You do wonder if Rictrudis forgave her parents for killing her husband. I sure would have a very hard time with that!

        Lisa, I love your taking a painting home idea too. Cliff and I always say our favorite one or two from an exhibit,but the the concept of taking one home is even more personal. That would be neat to do when taking kids to a museum.

Comment on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s