This is a beautiful painting. Yet, I think something is wrong. It’s not the technical expertise, that is very good, or the colors, they are well chosen. I believe it is St. Joseph himself. He is too far away from Mary. He would have been much closer to her, to give her comfort and to be quickly aware of any of her needs. He would have been much closer to the donkey’s head, holding the reins softly yet securely in order to prevent any bucks or missteps that the animal might be in mind to give. The rope shows a … Continue reading Bethlehem Journey
Sacred art, by its very nature, is catechetical. The purpose of this art was and continues to be a method of instruction. The Catholic Church, in its Latin and Greek Rites, and the twenty-six Catholic Rites that are in union with Rome, have all produced magnificent sacred calligraphy and art; non-Catholic faiths have done this, too. Two thousand years ago Christians hiding in Rome inscribed images of Christ, the Blessed Mother and with the Christ child, and other Scriptural images on the walls of the catacombs. That art contributed to the catechesis of the early Christians. Two millennia later, Pope … Continue reading Catechesis and Catholic Art
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity, one of the five Dogmas of the Church, is an extraordinary and unfathomable mystery. Our limited intellects are unable to comprehend its reality, yet, our Scriptures and scholarly Tradition makes it known to us. The scientific analogy that will be provided in a few moments is truly inadequate to describe the Holy Trinity. It does, however, provide the proverbial “grist for the mill” for all of us, believers and skeptics alike, that such a concept of “Three existing in One” does exist in nature and can be … Continue reading The Holy Trinity – A Scientific Analogy
This is a magnificent 30 minute overview of the places in Jerusalem in which Our Lord spent His last hours. Please share with your families and others who would benefit from it. It is beautifully presented without the poor production values of other similar attempts. This production was filmed, edited, and narrated by members of the Augustine Institute in Colorado.. Thanks. May you and your loved ones be blessed by Our Lord Jesus Christ and have a Holy and Blessed Easter season. https://watch.formed.org/holy-thursday/videos/triduum Continue reading Holy Triduum: A Video Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
The Vatican, last week, unveiled the 2020 Christmas crèche in St. Peter’s Square. Historical tradition explains that St. Francis of Assisi was the first to promote the display of the birth of Our Lord. He believed that it would edify and improve prayerful worship of Jesus, the moment of His Nativity, and subsequent events. For approximately 800 years the Christmas crèche has been portrayed in a respectful and accurate way. It combined different elements of the Nativity found in Sacred Scripture into one scene that conveys spiritual and historical truth to the viewer. Within the last fifty years people with … Continue reading Vatican Creche – 2020 – A Contemptuous Insult
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence, a deacon and third century martyr. St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of Rome who served as the Pope’s ministers during Holy Mass and as his administrators to the people of Rome. There is little historical evidence remaining on St. Lawrence. His Acts had been lost by the time of St. Augustine in the 4th century, yet, Pope St. Leo the Great and St. Augustine wrote about him and his martyrdom. The tradition of the Church states that he was a native of northern Spain and was ordained by Pope St. Sixtus … Continue reading St. Lawrence – Deacon and Martyr
Sacred Scripture has always celebrated the beauty and significance of the mountain in Israel called Carmel. It is significant for two reasons: In a dramatic contest with the priests of the pagan god Baal, Elijah fought the false gods of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel; a king and queen who were dramatically attempting to turn the Israelites away from the belief of monotheism to polytheism. It is believed that the base of the mountain is where the Hebrew prophet Elijah prayed, contemplated God, defeated the priests of Baal, and defended the purity of Israel’s faith (confer 1 Kgs 18:17–46). … Continue reading Elijah, Pagans, and Our Lady of Mt Carmel
This post was previously published in 2012; however I desired to rewrite and republish it because of the crisis the Chinese Catholic Church, that is loyal to Rome, is experiencing this day. The Communist Chinese Government’s persecution of the Church has already produced contemporary martyrs to the faith. We remember today, July 9th, the 120 martyrs who died in China between the years 1648 and 1930. Eighty-seven of these were native born Chinese and were children, parents, catechists, and simple laborers ranging in age from nine to seventy-two. In the early 19th century, St. Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese … Continue reading Chinese Martyrs and the Beautiful Art of Ken Jan Woo
Artistic images of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, as portrayed by different cultures within historical periods, have been part of world history for centuries. Below are a few examples of these images. The various images of Jesus and His Mother portrayed by each ethnic group are beautiful and have spiritual meaning. Are the artists of these works prejudiced or racist? Because of the controversy over comments made by political activists over the last few weeks it would appear that the motive of cultural artistic contributions is based on racial superiority. Their opinion points to the obvious truth that in our social … Continue reading The Virgin Mary – Racial Supremacy and Artistic Diversity
In the June 22, 2020 issue of Newsweek an on-line article by Aila Slisco reported some statements by political activist Mr. Shaun King. She states: “He [King] also remarked that stained glass windows and other images of a white Jesus, his European mother and their white friends should all be destroyed, insisting they are racist, examples of ethnic propaganda, and “a form of white supremacy. “They should all come down.” (I’ll comment on these statements by Mr. King in another post). King’s comments came in association with Black Lives Matter protests against the brutality of some police officers toward minorities. … Continue reading Iconoclasm and Shaun King
On this solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25th, we remember St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation: “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” “And when the angel had come to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” When she had heard him she was troubled at his word and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. … Continue reading Virgin Mary: Trust and Obedience in the Lord
Today, May 2nd, is the “Memorial” day of St. Athanasius, a Doctor (profound theologian) of the Church. There are four “giants” of the Nicene and Post Nicene period, all are known as “Doctors” of the Church: St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Augustine. They are immortalized in bronze by the Renaissance sculptor, Bernini, and are portrayed in his magnificent sculpture of the Throne of St. Peter found in the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom are saints of both the Latin and the Greek Rites of the Church. Both were bishops. Yet, Bernini … Continue reading Bernini’s Bronze Sculpture of Four “Giants” of the Church
I would like to thank one of my readers who identified the contemporary icon of St. Spyridon (thanks Carol!). The iconographer is the Catholic priest William Hart McNichols. He is a very talented artist who paints traditional icons and sacred images. At times, he steps out of the bounds of the traditional approach and adds his own personal interpretation of the person he is portraying. His artistic vision is unique. John Daly from Australia emailed me this morning to provide further grist for our mill concerning St. Athanasius, St. Spyridon, and the Council of Nicaea. One of the participants in … Continue reading Sacred Icons and Sacred Images – the Nicene Debate Continues!
I am always very appreciative of my readers writing to me and providing new information and interpretations of sacred icons and images. Happily, that occurred last evening when a reader, Mr. John Daly from Australia, provided me with information on the second icon that was in yesterday’s post on St. Athanasius. Let me provide you with that image so we will have a reference point: Mr. Daly is correct – it is St. Spyridon (born AD 270, died 340). Let’s take a look at the reasons for this correction: The bishop castigating the heretic Arius is wearing a distinctive hat. … Continue reading St. Athanasius and St. Spyridon: A Correction and Another Interpretation – Let’s Take A Closer Look!
St. Athanasius of Alexandria was “the Lion” of the Council of Nicaea. He was instrumental in providing well argued testimony rebuking the heretic Arius during the Council’s debates. His verbal skills, as powerful and commanding as a lion, shredded Arius’ arguments. His eloquence convinced the assembled bishops of the correct dogma that Jesus Christ has two, separate and distinct, natures (divine and human), and that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. The heretic Arius insisted that Jesus was “just a creature” of God. The Council’s main purpose was to address the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the … Continue reading St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons
The extensive Gospel reading for Palm Sunday relates the Scriptural and historical truth that Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, yet, five days later He was arrested, put on trial, tortured, and executed. As you know, the religious and secular leaders of Israel did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. They were adamant about the fact that Jesus was just a man and that His claims, teachings, and healings were all fraudulent. Their disbelief took place during the first century, yet, two hundred years later there were Christians saying the same thing. The questions came down to, “Who … Continue reading Saint Nicholas Slaps a Heretic! A Reflection Appropriate for Palm Sunday
I once heard a friend repeat a quote by the author Katherine Mansfield: If you wish to live, you must first attend your own funeral.” How true. We begin to live life perceptively only when we project ourselves to the time of our own death, imagining how we’ve lived our life and wondering whether we’ve met the mark. Depending on our frame of mind, and perspective on life, we may not include the spiritual in our self-assessment, or, only give it a passing thought. That is why Mansfield’s phrase may be viewed as spiritually deficient. In today’s Gospel on the … Continue reading Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32. The Prodigal: Which Brother Are We?
Is communication just a trait of human beings? Is it a trait of God? The Dogma of the Holy Trinity is one of the great Mysteries of the Christian Faith. All Christians acknowledge and accept that The One True God, the divine Holy Trinity, are three separate and distinct Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is not three separate Gods. They are one God in three Divine Persons. This is known as the dogma of the “consubstantial” Trinity: each of the three Persons is God – completely and entirely. These ideas were debated and verified by … Continue reading The Holy Trinity – Communication Through Word and Art
This passage from the Gospel of St. Luke is a parable about a destitute man named Lazarus and a rich man, who at times is called by the name Dives (the word dives in the Latin Bible refers to a “rich man”). Jesus places Lazarus sitting day after day by the rich man’s front door. Lazarus is sick. He is at Dives’ home hoping to receive a scrap of food from his table. The food never comes. Jesus continues to tell the story which culminates in the death of both men and their subsequent judgment. Lazarus is welcomed into Paradise and is … Continue reading Luke: 16: 19-31 – Is Lazarus in Your House?
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, He was famished. (Gospel of Luke chapter 4: verses 1-2) In the extraordinary painting below, we see Jesus after He was led into the desert wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He is surrounded by rocks and sand. He sits on a boulder, hands in front of Him. His eyes are filled with the knowledge of reality, of passions, power, … Continue reading Christ in the Wilderness: Lent – the Season of Preparation – Luke 4: 1-2.
Today’s post will continue to add to my two previous posts: The Apologists (Defenders of the Faith) – Part 7, and The Apologists – Comparing Icons. The men below are also known as the Ante Nicene Fathers. The word Ante (before) refers to the fact that they defended the Faith during the terrible persecutions of the first three centuries of the Church (the Domitian, Decian, Valerian, and Diocletian persecutions). These persecutions occurred prior to the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). The Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine in order for the assembled bishops, and their representatives from throughout … Continue reading Apologists – Additional Saints Prior to the Council of Nicaea
Can you pick out the seven similarities between the two sacred icons of Church Apologists that are below? The differences? Let’s take a look at the two icons above. Both are correct in the way they are represented. From an artistic and symbolic point-of-view there are distinct similarities. They have seven similarities: the beard (signifying experience, authority, and that the saint is an elder); a large, high forehead (signifying Christian wisdom as influenced by the Holy Spirit which is visualized through the saint’s works and knowledge); the Holy Cross upon the priest’s stole (it appears as a garment that circles the … Continue reading Icons – Important Similarities/Differences
A Challenge: Are you as a Christian artist willing to internalize the message of the saint, scene, or Scripture passage you are artistically representing, and then, correctly portray it according to Church tradition? Sacred artists must have more than just an awarenesses of Jesus, His Mother, angels and saints because their witness provides us with the foundation stones of our Faith. Sacred artists must be more than artists who propose “Art for art’s sake”. If we do this what do we become? We become evangelists to the truth, goodness, and beauty of God, through the witness of Jesus Christ and … Continue reading Christian Witness and Sacred Art – The Early Church Fathers – Part 7
This post and an upcoming posts will very briefly explain some of the major figures in the Church history during the period of AD 65 through AD 155 – the period known as the age of the Apostolic Fathers. Ultimately, Parts 7 through 9 will cover some of the key leaders within the three subsequent periods of the early Church (circa AD 155 to circa AD 800). I am presenting this material because it is critical for anyone studying and painting sacred images and sacred icons to be aware of the theological understanding of the scholars and bishops in the … Continue reading The Apostolic Fathers in Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Part Six
Allow me to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I can do that because, liturgically, we are still in the Christmas Season! That Season ends this Sunday – the Baptism of the Lord. Okay, we left off in the last post with a schematic of the discipline of painting. The previous posts also provided a simple definition of Art and its disciplines. As we now return to our study allow me to provide you with the three “Major Periods” of Catholic Sacred Art. These Periods also impact what I, in my humble opinion, have labelled … Continue reading Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Three Major Stages
This is an easier way to view the material within yesterday’s post. Copyright © 2011- 2018 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved Continue reading Art Schematic of Church Painting
Tonight we will use yesterday’s post as a starting point to examine Roman Catholic painting. I mentioned that there are seven disciplines within the definition of Art. One of those disciplines is painting. As it applies to this discussion when we consider the discipline of painting we can say that there are two major categories: Roman Catholic Sacred Painting and Secular Painting. We can then subdivide these two major categories. Within the category of Roman Catholic Sacred Painting we have two major subcategories: Sacred Icons and Sacred Images. I propose that there is a subcategory below Sacred Images, it is called Religious Images. I will explain in later … Continue reading Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Categories
Hello! Glad to be back after a series of learning experiences which took me away from the keyboard. I see from the website’s analytics that we are still popular on a worldwide level (thank you!). I also appreciate and thank all of the hundreds of subscribers that have stayed with this blog and continue to use and enjoy the material I’ve presented and the many tens of thousands that have popped in and out over the past seven years. Last week I made a church presentation (a power point lecture) on “Our Blessed Mother and Sacred Art Applied to Prayer.” For … Continue reading What is Art?
Just wanted to notify the people who are following the art lessons in my St. Joseph Art Workshop tab that I just published Lesson 4: Applying Color and Modeling the Face. You need to go to the Menu tab above and click on Lesson 4 to see it. My next post in the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop tab will be Lesson 5. It will be the last post in my Art Exercise of Painting Sacred Images using Acrylic Paint. Thanks. Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop: Lesson 4 – Applying Color and Modeling the Face
Today’s post is Part 4 in my series that began on May 16, 2018 concerning the recently concluded exhibition of extraordinary egg tempera paintings by the Dominican friar Beato Fra Angelico. The exhibition was held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts during the Spring of 2018 and was entitled Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth. Nathaniel Silver, Associate Curator of the Collection for this exhibition, includes in his book, Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth, articles by eleven scholars. Each paper is a quality contribution to scholarship. There is one article authored by Chiara Pidatella, entitled “The Provenance of … Continue reading Fra Angelico’s Four Reliquaries for the Church of Santa Maria Novella – Part 4 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition
Today’s post is Part 3 in my series that began on May 16, 2018 concerning the recently concluded exhibition of extraordinary egg tempera paintings by Fra Angelico. The exhibition was held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts and entitled Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth. Today’s painting concerns a major piece of the exhibition – the Armadio degli Argenti. The four panels of which the Gardner Museum only showed one is also known as the “Silver Chest.” It was commissioned in 1450 and completed in 1452, three years before Fra Angelico’s death. This panel (123 x 160 cm) … Continue reading Fra Angelico and the Armadio degli Argenti – Part 3 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition
To all those that have expressed interest in the FREE on-line sacred art workshop that I am offering here at fraangelicoinstitute.com please note that yesterday I posted Lesson 3 in Exercise 1: Painting an Image of St. Rose of Lima. Just click on the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop Tab on top of the image of St. Gabriel and the Virgin Mary and you will see the first Workshop page. If you have already visited the Workshop Tab then just continue to scroll down to find the Lessons that I have posted so far. I am putting all the Lessons in … Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop – Lesson 3 – Applying Pigment
I hope you had a blessed Feast of Pentecost! Please read Part 1 of “Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth” (posted here on May 16, 2018) in order to receive a proper introduction to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s extraordinary exhibition that, unfortunately, closed this weekend.. As you moved into the gallery that exhibited this once in a lifetime collection of Fra Angelico paintings you first saw the beautiful painting entitled The Ascension of Christ, The Last Judgement, and Pentecost (the Corsini Triptych). It is painted in egg tempera with gold leaf on a wood panel. Fra Angelico painted it … Continue reading Fra Angelico – “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 2 – Ascension, Pentecost, the Last Judgement
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts is the only venue in America for the extraordinary “Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth” exhibition. This amazing collection of reliquaries which express the life of the Virgin Mary, and other paintings of the greatest painter of the Early Renaissance, will be on display until this Sunday May 20th, 2018. Earlier incorrect media reports had the last day as May 28th. I will be posting my photos of the Gardner Museum’s exhibit starting with this post and continuing on through the upcoming weeks and months. The exhibit consists of more than just the … Continue reading Fra Angelico – The “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 1
Today, May 1, is the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. I chose him to be the patron of St. Joseph’s Art Workshop (found within this site’s Menu Tab at the top of the page) because he is, of all the saints, the most important next to Our Blessed Mother. He was a righteous man (in the finest sense of that spiritual word), a devout and very prayerful Jew, a carpenter, the beloved spouse of our Blessed Mother, and the foster father of Jesus Christ. Today we honor him as a worker. A worker in the professional sense and a … Continue reading St. Joseph the Worker and Sacred Artists
Good day, I just posted, starting at # 8 in the list, Part 3: Pigments and Mediums, required to paint the sacred image. Please note that the pigments in bold face are the ones you need to purchase for the sacred image in Exercise Number 1. Please remember that you will have to scroll down in the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop Tab in the Menu at the top of the site in order to reach the new post. Thanks. April 17, 2018 © Deacon Paul O. Iacono 2011-2018 Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop – Part 3: Pigments and Mediums
I just posted Part 1 and 2, which deals with the materials needed to paint a sacred image. It can be found within the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop tab in the Menu section at the top of the page. The next Workshop posts will deal with the names of the paints you need to purchase, the sacred image I have chosen for this exercise, where you may obtain it on the web, and beginning the drawing process. I will, hopefully, post them by April 22, 2018. Thanks for reading and participating in this artistic adventure! © Deacon Paul O. Iacono … Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop: Part 1 and 2 – Materials
Allow me to suggest to my fellow Catholic sacred artists a “canon” of ten fundamental propositions. These ideas and proposals are my personal musings. They assist me in organizing my thoughts and behavior. It is my hope that they will act as an organizational tool for the interested reader, too. They may also assist you, as they have for me, in providing clarity to our foundation and purpose as sacred artists. The term “Catholic” in this document refers to the Latin Rite (Rome) and the more than twenty Rites of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that are in union with … Continue reading The Canon of a Catholic Sacred Artist
Yesterday, March 19th, Catholics happily celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph. Today’s post is slightly different from those previous in that it will discuss an Italian pastry in relation to a symbol found in Catholic sacred art. We are breaking new ground here! A little history is in order. In the 1800’s, a creative baker in the city of Naples, Italy made, for the first time, a pastry known as the zeppola (plural, zeppole). Through the years other areas created this delicacy, too, such as the islands of Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta. This traditional pastry travelled with the Italian immigrants … Continue reading Zeppole, St. Joseph, and Sacred Art
Galatians 1:15-18 relates St. Paul saying: “But when God, who had set me apart from the time when I was in my mother’s womb, called me through His grace and chose to reveal His Son in me, so that I should preach Him to the Gentiles, I was in no hurry to confer with any human being, or to go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me. Instead I went off into Arabia, and later I came back to Damascus. Only after three years did I go up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas (Peter). I stayed fifteen … Continue reading Paul in Arabia and Damascus
I have the happy service of presenting a new workshop to interested adults from Massachusetts and Rhode Island beginning on Saturday February 14th, 2015. In an attempt to give everyone individual attention the class is currently filled at a limit of ten people. We will be pursuing our studies of painting sacred images in the Latin iconographic tradition. I hope to make the artists aware of the importance of studying the Latin and Byzantine origins of sacred images and its inevitable blossoming within the Greek and Russian civilizations. The workshop will run over a five-week period, for a total of … Continue reading Jesus Our Savior – An Image that is a Work in Progress
The mission of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is to teach the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through the prayerful creation of sacred art. We are happy to announce that we have recently entered into a partnership with Thomas More College of Liberal Arts to present a wonderful on-line course to anyone interested in Catholic Culture and the sacred art of the Church. We also have a special opportunity for teachers of history, art, religion, and the humanities in Catholic high schools of the Diocese of Providence who complete this course. Thomas More College of Liberal … Continue reading The Way of Beauty On-Line Course and Reimbursement Scholarship Opportunities
One of the great blessings the Lord has granted me is the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people who are interested in studying and creating sacred art. An example of this is the fine Rhode Island artist, Lesley Green. Lesley is no stranger to art. She has been interested in it since adolescence and received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. She continued to pursue her studies while taking time out to marry and raise a family. I first met Lesley a number of years ago, when my wife and I started the Fra Angelico Institute … Continue reading Lesley Green – A Rhode Island Sacred Artist
Clicking on the attached link found below produces an excellent article by Elise Ehrhard in Crisis Magazine describing the Swiss painter Eugène Burnand’s late 19th century masterpiece The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection. One writer has described this painting as a visual Lectio Divina since the observer cannot help but feel the joy, hope, and love of these disciples for the Lord. May you and your families experience an Easter season filled with the healing love of Christ. The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made | Crisis Magazine. Continue reading Eugene Burnand and The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made | Crisis Magazine
If you are in the vicinity of New Haven, Connecticut within the next two weeks take the opportunity to stop by the Knights of Columbus Museum for their magnificent exhibit entitled “Windows into Heaven – Russian Icons and Treasures.” The Museum is located at One State Street, New Haven, and offers free admission and parking. They are open from 10 to 5 pm. For the past year it has hosted a private collection of spectacular Russian sacred icons and liturgical artifacts. It is the finest collection of Russian sacred icons that I have observed in the Northeast owing to the fact … Continue reading Beautiful Russian Sacred Icons at the New Haven Knights of Columbus Museum
In the late 19th century a Russian painter, the noted portraitist, draughtsman, and teacher Ivan Kramskoi painted a haunting image of Jesus alone in the desert. It is a painting which expresses the internal struggle of the flesh versus the spirit. It portrays Jesus, in the early morning hours and the cold air of the dawn, with the sun rising over His back. He is surrounded by small boulders and sits on a rock, hands in front of him, eyes filled with anguish and pain. This portrait of Christ in the desert is not one of victory; looking closely at His … Continue reading Christ in the Wilderness, a Russian Artist, and a Challenge
Our society is quite adept at pointing out the sins and foolishness of others. Cable TV, radio talk shows, and various web sites love to dwell on the ignorant and immoral actions of politicians, celebrities, and the man in the street. But, as sacred artists within the Christian Tradition, what does Jesus require of us? Jesus demands that we become countercultural. He requires us to be more concerned with our own sinfulness rather than the sins or inadequacies of others. When we first heard it years ago, last Sunday’s Gospel of Matthew 5: 17-37 must have caught us off guard – … Continue reading Sin and the Sacred Artist
In our Gospel last week we stood at the banks of the Jordan River and witnessed Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Today we hear John announce to all that the Spirit of God rests upon Jesus who is described as the Lamb of God and the Light of the World. John goes on to say that Jesus is not an angel, a prophet, nor a magician; rather, He is the incarnate Son of the Most High God. John reminds us that as the “Lamb of God” Jesus has a specific mission. His role is to teach and preach, and most importantly, it … Continue reading Baptism, Discipleship, and the Art of Lorenzo Lotto
Last February, in Parts 1 and 2 of this article, I shared with you some thoughts on an important figure in the history of Western European art: the Benedictine monk, Roger of Helmarshausen, also known by his pen name, Theophilus the Presbyter. Dom Roger was born in the late 11th century during a dramatic time in Western European history. In 1066 the Normans successfully invaded England and defeated the Saxons, which forever changed the history of England and the Continent. In 1084, St. Bruno founded the Carthusian Order in France, and in 1098 the foundation monastery of Citeaux saw the beginning … Continue reading Roger of Helmarshausen O.S.B. – Theophilus the Presbyter: Part 3 – The Prologues
Today’s sacred artist within the Western tradition may have been exposed to many different artistic traditions. Artists may have been classically trained in a formal academy such as the Florence Academy of Art, or, they may have been educated at a secular institution that emphasizes a modern abstract expressionistic form of art. Other models are available, too. Some artists may have been self-taught, or, as in my case, study with specific masters of sacred art that offered intensive workshops to interested groups or individuals. Upon my retirement from a career in education, I finally had the opportunity to study and … Continue reading Theophilus, Iconography, and the Contemporary Sacred Artist – Part One
As we begin the season of Lent I thought you would enjoy this article by Father Jason Smith. It contains a magnificent sacred image painted by George de La Tour (1593 – 1652). La Tour is one of my favorite artists; I especially enjoy his beautiful sacred image of St. Joseph teaching the child Jesus. During his lifetime La Tour was considered to be the painter for the French nobility. His son Etienne became his pupil and followed his father’s style so closely that it is very difficult for today’s art historians to determine the author of certain paintings within their collection. … Continue reading The Penitent Magdalene and the Way to True Conversion of Heart – A RePost Of Fr. Jason Smith’s Essay
A very clear narrative greets us in the Gospel by St. Luke. He tells us that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God: walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord – they were blameless; but they have no child. Elizabeth was barren and both were elderly. We read of Zechariah silently bringing his heavy heart before the Lord – even after all those years – it was still burdened with disappointment. The couple probably remembered Psalm 112 which says: “Happy the man who fears the Lord, who takes delight in his commands. His … Continue reading December 21, 2012 – The Archangel Gabriel’s Greeting to Zechariah
On December 13th of every year we remember the life and death of Saint Lucy. Lucy was the virgin martyr who was put to death in the year 304 during the great persecution started by the Emperor Diocletian. St. Lucy is one of those saints whose feast day came at the time of the winter solstice, and because the name Lucy is derived from the Latin “lucis or lux” which means “light” a song was written that had this refrain: “This is the feast of St. Lucy Light, the shortest day and the longest night.” In the 6th century, with the … Continue reading St. Lucy – Patron of the Blind
Wishing all Americans a Happy Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and all friends and followers of this blog a blessed and creative day. The statement below was released by Pope Benedict 16th this morning. It contains some very poignant and relevant points for meditation and implementation. As artists we have a wonderful responsibility to be “Guardians of Beauty in the World” – especially the beauty of faith. Enjoy! “Vatican City, 22 November 2012 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in the Aula Magna of the Palazzo San Pio X, the Pontifical Academies held their seventeenth public session on the … Continue reading A Papal Statement: The Beauty Of Faith Is Not An Obstacle To Artistic Creation
In our celebration of the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi we must pause for a moment and examine the virtues that motivated and energized his life. We can begin by saying that he was a simple man. He pursued simplicity. This does not mean that he was of limited intelligence, or that he pursued simplicity for simplicity sake, rather, it means that he was successful at eliminating everything from his life that did not enhance his understanding and love of Jesus. In other words, he kept to what was essential in life: “God, the state of our soul, judgment and eternal life.” He realized that “to … Continue reading The Virtues of St. Francis of Assisi – A Model For Sacred Artists
This is my third post in as many days on Our Blessed Mother Mary. September is an appropriate time to remember the significance of Mary in the life of the Church and, more importantly, in our own lives. For as the Mother of God she is, necessarily, the mother of our own spiritual life. She nurtures us to understand that her Son is always there for us. He does not impose Himself on us and neither does Mary. They desire us to freely choose kinship with them. Today, September 12th is the memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary. The … Continue reading The Most Holy Name of Mary
On September 8th the Church celebrates the feast of the birthday of Mary, our Blessed Mother. Tradition tells us that Mary was the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. She was betrothed to and later married Joseph, a respected Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Little is known of Mary’s life other than the references to her in the Gospels. She attended the wedding feast at Cana, was present at Jesus’ crucifixion, and was with the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. St. Andrew of Crete puts this feast day, celebrated since the 5th century, in perspective for us … Continue reading The Nativity of Mary – Our Blessed Mother
Today is the memorial of the Queenship of Mary. Through the centuries, sacred icons and images have expressed the Queenship and Coronation of the Holy Theotokos – the Mother of God. The icon The Virgin Salus Populi Romani, a 5th century icon, displayed in the Church of Saint Mary Major in Rome, and seen below, shows the Blessed Mother dressed in typical first century Middle Eastern garb as she holds her Son who gives a blessing. This icon is reputed to be a copy of one that was painted by St. Luke the evangelist who tradition states knew and spoke to the Blessed … Continue reading The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (8:30), sets that stage for this great solemnity: “Those God predestined He likewise called; those He called He also justified; and those He justified He in turn glorified.” Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption/Dormition of Mary. This is an ancient celebration documented as occurring as early as the 400’s, probably soon after the Council of Ephesus in 431 declared Mary the Theotokos: the Mother of God. In a homily on the solemnity of the Assumption, Pope John Paul II used John 14:3 as a Scriptural foundation for understanding the dogma of the Assumption … Continue reading The Assumption of Mary
The Church honors today, August 11th, the holy woman, consecrated virgin, founder and Abbess of the religious order known as the Poor Clares, and dear friend of St. Francis of Assisi. We know her by her Anglicized name: Clare. She was, however, born Chiara Offreduccio in Assisi, Italy on July 16, 1194. The Italian language has always been especially tuned to convey, through words and sounds, a delicacy and refinement of spirit. Her Italian name, Chiara, gives witness to this observation, since its English equivalent means – clear. The image above by Simone Martini (1283 – 1344) conveys this quiet asceticism … Continue reading St. Clare – Our Holy Friend and Lover of God
The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is truly honored to receive three blogging awards. Teresa Rice at Catholiclibertarian has nominated this blog for three awards: The Illuminating Blogger Award, The One Lovely Blog Award, and The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Teresa Rice’s blog at Catholiclibertarian is dedicated to discussing contemporary issues through the lens of being a faith-filled Catholic as well as a person who has a mixture of conservative and libertarian political views. Teresa’s columns are always well written, insightful, challenging and dogmatically faithful to the Catholic Church. We are proud, honored, and humbled by her confidence … Continue reading We Receive and Give Awards – We Are Deeply Touched!
We are so very grateful to everyone who has visited this website over the past year. It was on August 1, 2011 that I posted my first essay. By midnight tonight over 13,000 people, from 106 nations, will have visited this site and, hopefully, been spiritually fed by the discussion on issues concerning sacred images and iconography, prayer, and reflections on the Holy Scripture. May God continue to bless all those who have an interest in sacred art and move them to deepen their prayer life by using sacred art as a focal point in their meditations. Thank you! May … Continue reading Thank You! Our One Year Anniversary!
Over the past six years I have participated in numerous workshops in sacred art and have produced a number of sacred images, each of which helped me understand the techniques of this sacred art. In 2006, I participated in my first workshop at St. Michael’s Institute of Sacred Art at St. Edmund’s Retreat in Mystic, CT. The instructor was Peter Pearson, an Episcopal priest from Pennsylvania. He introduced the class to the beautiful and prayerful experience of painting a sacred image in the Russian Orthodox tradition; however, rather than using egg tempera paints (in which you mix the yolk of … Continue reading Summer 2012 Workshop in Painting Sacred Images – A Few Reflections
You are probably thinking, the poor old fellow has made a mistake in his spelling. Shouldn’t the title read “Son” of Justice? One evening a passage from Evening Prayer in the Divine Office caught my attention. It was the final prayer and it read: “Father, yours is the morning and yours is the evening. Let the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, shine for ever in our hearts and draw us to that light where you live in radiant glory.” That phrase provided this image’s title: Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. My intent was to have the image direct the prayerful observer … Continue reading A Sacred Image – The Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ
The book of Exodus mentions the Egyptian city of Rameses. If you travel to the Egyptian University Museum of Antiquities, in one of the side rooms, you will see two interesting artifacts: an ancient stone pillar that proclaims: “The pharaoh built the city of Rameses with Asiatic Semitic slaves,” and an ancient tomb painting showing slaves hard at work making bricks for the city. Many scholars view these “Asiatic Semitic slaves” to be the Hebrew people. With the unveiling of Moses as a prophetic leader we read of the Hebrews release from bondage through the unstoppable combination of his leadership … Continue reading Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Calls Us To Holiness