“The pain was so great that I screamed aloud; but at the same time I felt such an infinite sweetness that I wished the pain to last forever. It was not physical but psychic pain, although it affected the body as well to some degree. It was the sweetest caressing of the soul by God.”
This is how Saint Teresa describes her heart being pierced by an angel with a golden arrow. How is it possible for an artist to turn this powerful text into an image? Such a complex set of emotions is hard enough to be described in text, how can it be demonstrated in a piece of marble? Between the years 1645 and 1652 Gianlorenzo Bernini managed to do this with a great skill, and created one of the most dramatic sculptures in history. The point in which we see the two figures, the angel and the saint, is not only the climax of the story but also the very middle of the action. It is the very instance in which the feeling described above is felt. The facial expressions are so detailed that they portray the exact emotions experienced by the figures. The whole scene is so dramatic that it might have been a part of a Shakespearean play. Adding to the overall dramatic feel of this sculpture is the great craftsmanship demonstrated on it; the cloth, hair, wings and skin look exactly like in real life.