Who’s the Greatest? (Part One)

Young St. John the Baptist

I first saw “The Young St. John in the Wilderness” [Giovanni Battista Caracciolo] in the early 1980’s at a gallery on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. It took a moment or several to register. Then I saw – he had not yet taken up the banner, “Ecce Agnus Dei,” or, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Instead, John was pointing to himself. 

“I am the One. I am the Savior. I am number One.” “I am in the light. I AM the Light!”

And, what a look! “Deal with ME! Got any problem with that? Wanna test me, wanna fight?” What chutzpah! 

It’s breathtaking. Caracciolo captures youthful narcissism in its full blossom. What glory!

Been there. Doing just that.

So, here’s a question for today: What changed John? What events in his life moved him to take up the banner and point to Jesus and not himself? What was transformed in him? 

The flip side is: What do I cling to that keeps me bound up in myself and unwilling to pick up the banner, this time with deeper intent?



  1. 847 295 1485 says:

    Really great Roc, loved it. I think we all had to grow out of our “I am in charge” moment. There is also relief when we can stop being the Messiah.


  2. Mary says:

    Impressive painting … more likely a self expression of the artist himself rather than the Baptist who “leapt in the womb” when he “Beheld the Lamb of God” also still in His Mama’s womb! N’est-ce pas?


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