Molanus defends the use of images of parents and other ancestors.
“We must not disapprove of the sentiment of those who wish to preserve by an image the memory of their parents and ancestors who have shone by true virtues. We have a famous example of this in the person of the most holy Roman pontiff Gregory the Great. He ordered two very old icons to be painted with great skill, which Deacon John says could still be seen in his time in the atrium of Gregory’s monastery in Saxony. On one of them, the Blessed Apostle Peter is sitting and holding in his right hand the right hand of the standing Gordian, i.e. Gregory’s father. And on the other, Gregory’s mother, making the sign of the cross with two fingers of her right hand, showed her desire to protect herself; underneath was inscribed: Sylvia, mother of Gregory. In the same monastery, a circular fresco by the skilful brush of the same master showed Gregory holding the Gospel in his left hand and a kind of cross in his right hand, bearing behind his head, not a crown, but a kind of solid square, the sign of the one who possesses life. This means very clearly, says Deacon John to John VII, that Gregory, during his lifetime, wished to have his portrait painted so that his monks could have it as often as possible before their eyes, not so that they could glory in their pride, but so that they could remember the discipline taught. Those who wish to know what the appearance, face and clothing of Gregory, Gordian and Silvia were in these paintings will find them recorded with great care in the chapters already quoted from the Life of Gregory.”
“Non est autem improbandus eorum affectus, qui parentum suorum et maiorum, qui veris virtutibus claruerunt, memoriam per Imagines conservare capiunt. Cuius rei illustre exemplum habemus quoque in sanctissimo illo Romane Sedis Pontifice Gregorio Magno. Is enum artificiose depingi iussit duas icones verustissimas, quae in atrio Gregoriani in Saxonia monasterii usque hactenus visuntur, inquit Ioannes Diaconus, In quarum altera Beatus Apostolus Petrus sedens, stantem Gordianum regionarium, videlicet patrem Gregorii, manu dextra per dextram nihilominus suscipit. In altera vero mater Gregorii sedens, depcita est duobus dexterae digitis signaculo crucis se munire velle praetendens, cum subscriptione, Gregorius Silviae matri. Imo vero Gregorius ibidem eisudem aurificis magisterio depictus in rota gypsea ostenditur, habens Evangelium in sinistra, modum crucis in dextra. Circa vertice vero tabule similitudinem quae viventis insigne est praeferens, non coronam. Ex quo manisestissime declaratur, ait Ioannes Diaconus ad Ioannem septimum, quod Gregorius dum adhuc viveret, suam similitudinem depingi salubriter voluit, in quo posset a suis monachis, non pro elationis gloria sed pro cognitae districtionis cautela frequentius intueti. Qui cupit scire expressum vultum et sestitum Gregorii, Gordiani, ac Silviae in praedictis picturis, inveniet ea diligentissime annotata in citatis ex vita Gregorii Capitibus.”
Vitae Gegorii, book 4, ch. 83.
Molanus 1996, 308-309.