A Thousand Words

Piero della Francesca's The Baptism of Christ

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

At the Council of Florence in 1439, it seemed for a fleeting moment as if the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western branches of the Church might have been resolved. In 1417, the papal household had set itself in order, replacing three rival claimants with a single compromise candidate. Meanwhile, in the East, Byzantium was under siege by the Turks, and, desperate for help from the West, seemed ready, too, to make compromises. It was a moment of great hope, and, when representatives of both branches came together, a time of unparalleled pomp and pageantry. The city of Florence . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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