THE FACE OF LOVE CAN BE UGLY AS WELL AS BEAUTIFUL

Roslyn Barnes was a Catholic convert. She dedicated her 1962 Masters’ thesis, a comparison of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Teilhard de Chardin, to her friend, Flannery O’Connor.

In Good Things Out of Nazareth: The Uncollected Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Friends, Barnes writes from Chile in August, 1964, to Fr. James McCown:

“I am a ‘me-tooer’ too in what you say about love. But I think that love on earth must have elements of ugliness, as the Passion of Christ itself did. In this world both saints & lovers look grotesque and repulsive. And the world of loving is so much more chaotic than the world of hate. To commit oneself to love is to ask for destruction–Christ’s experience is the proof of it. If only we were all so capable of taking up destruction as He! I know that a woman loves in a very different way than a man. Her love approaches closer to the way God loves. It has an element of Divinity even when it looks extreme and grotesque, ugliness you say. The face of love can be ugly as well as beautiful…”


After converting, Barnes trained with Msgr. Ivan Illich in Mexico for the missionary work she undertook in Chile. She disappeared there, her body never to be found, after O’Connor’s death in 1964.


” See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him –  so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals.”

–Isaiah 53: 13-14, in a passage often used to highlight Christ as the Suffering Servant  

2 Replies to “THE FACE OF LOVE CAN BE UGLY AS WELL AS BEAUTIFUL”

  1. stephensparrownz says: Reply

    Nice piece – thank you Heather

    1. Thank you, Stephen, and wishing you a fruitful Lent!

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