“Esther” (1878) by the London painter, Edwin Longsden Long (d. 1891), shows Esther as she is being prepared to leave the harem and become the wife of the king of Babylon, Ahasuerus. Esther looks plaintively at the viewer, making direct eye contact, drawing us into her story, which is  incredibly personal and dramatic, and yet also universal. There’s something in Esther’s journey for all of us, which is perhaps why early Church authors were quick to see elements in her story that were applicable allegorically to both Christ and the Church.

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