The story of the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus comes to us from St Mark’s gospel (Mark 10:46-52). In Luke’s version he is unnamed (18:35-43) and in St Matthew’s account, he is healed along with another blind beggar.
Christ was on his final journey to Jerusalem, where he was to suffer and die. A large crowd of people followed along with him. Near Jericho, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sat by the wayside. When he was told that Christ was passing by, he cried out: “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!” People told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder.
Hearing his cries, Christ stopped and called him over. Throwing off his cloak and leaping up, Bartimaeus approached Jesus. Christ asked him what he wanted. He replied: “Master, let me receive my sight.” So Christ responded: “Go; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he regained his sight and followed Christ on the journey.
Pope Benedict XVI once preached on the cure of Bartimaeus. He said: “His is the last miraculous healing that Jesus performs before his passion, and it is no accident that it should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light. We know from other texts too that the state of blindness has great significance in the Gospels. It represents man who needs God’s light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly and to walk the path of life.”
The pope continued: “Bartimaeus, then, at that strategic point of Mark’s account, is presented as a model. He was not blind from birth, but he lost his sight. He represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope: he knows how to seize the opportunity to encounter Jesus and he entrusts himself to him for healing.”
This oil painting of the gospel scene is by the Catholic artist John Armstrong. It’s found within the church of St George’s, Hangleton, alongside many others in a similar style, including the healing of the paralysed man. The paintings were commissioned by a previous parish priest, Fr. David Weston, who was himself a fine artist.
In the words of the artist: “This painting is loosely based on Duccio’s Bartimaeus in ‘Healing of the Blind Man’ in the National Gallery, London. At the lower right are his water barrel and stick. Because Jesus has healed him, Bartimaeus throws away his stick and dark glasses. The setting is a courtyard in Brighton, near the Clock Tower, that has since been built over.”
Where to see this work of art
St George’s, Hangleton
Read the relevant passage