Battle of Issus, 1529, Albrecht Altdorfer, 62 ½’’ × 47 ½’, oil on wood, Munich, Alte Pinakothek, Munich



Sr. Wendy Beckett offers a contemplative approach to spiritual reflection using the wonder of art. She reflects on The Battle of Issus and leads us on a journey of Changing Perspective.

Look carefully at the painting. (If you wish to see the painting in greater detail close one eye and look at the picture through an empty paper towel roll or make a small telescope-like shape with your hand. Details pop from the page.) Be attentive to Sister Wendy’s insightful thoughts as she writes the following entitled “True Perspective.”

“Our world may be one of struggle or even combat. It was at the Battle of Issus that Alexander the Great changed the course of the then-world’s history, yet how small and remote it is in Altdorfer’s painting. We are above it all, distanced by the immensities of time and space, looking down from the heavenly height at the tiny passions of those who fight. From here even the mountains seem small and inconsiderable, and the only real event is in the skies, where light encounters darkness – the daily and fore– destined battle we call Dawn and Sunset. Silence, distancing us, shakes our life into perspective, and we learn not to care for what is ephemeral and insignificant.” (Excerpt from Sr. Wendy’s Book of Meditations, DK Publishing, Inc. New York 1998. p.30)Denial – “This can’t be happening.” In what areas of your life are you in denial? Discuss this with the Lord asking for wisdom.


  • Recall a time when there was a war or battle-like experience in your life. How was God with you in that experience? What were your thoughts and feelings at the time and how has your perspective changed? Discuss this with God. What did you learn? Are there lessons that might apply to your current situation?
  • If you were to position yourself in this painting where would you be? In the battle? In a castle? Hiding in a tent? In one of the ships at sea? Preferably in a cave on one of those distant mountains? Hovering in the sky above? Where do you seem to be? Where would you like to be? And how is God with you in this reflection?
  • After this reflection what words or deeds can you do to be love in action?