Please see my post of July 9, 2020 entitled Chinese Martyrs and the Art of Ken Jan Woo. Thank you. Continue reading Ken Jan Woo – sacred artist
In response to a valuable comment made about my post – Part 2 – Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying with Sacred Images, I thought everyone would enjoy seeing one of the oldest images in existence of Saints Peter and Paul: a bronze medallion found in an excavation of the cemetery of Saint Domitilla in Rome. The Domitilla cemetery is fascinating because it is the oldest of the Roman catacombs and, according to one source, still contain bones. The Domitilla catacombs are very well preserved and contain a second century (AD 101 – 200) fresco of the Last Supper. This image … Continue reading 3rd Century Bronze Medallion of Saints Peter and Paul
In our Gospel today, from St. Mark Chapter 4: 26-34, we have two important parables concerning the reign of God: the first concerns the farmer’s sowing of seed and the second refers to the growth of the seed. When we examine the threads running through these parables we hear Jesus explaining not only the functions that the farmer performs, but the nature of the seed that is sown, as well. This first parable is found only in Mark’s Gospel and explains that through the ministry of Jesus, God’s sovereign and all-powerful rule over mankind is made visible. This is similar … Continue reading Seeds of Faith and Art
A few issues have come up in discussing some basic terms with people. I would like to be clear on how I have come to understand these words because it may affect how we view our “ministry” to be painters of sacred icons and or sacred images. From my understanding, the word icon in English, Greek, and Latin, is the word for image. In our usage as sacred artists, it refers to a sacred image of Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, angels, or specific saints. The purpose of a sacred icon is that, as a piece of sacred art, it … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: Part One
This is the third part of a three part series on a Spirit filled idea called Oro et Creo (“I Pray – I Create”). This idea was started by artists Jamie Medeiros and Deacon Tom Lambert. Please check out the first two parts of this series which have already been posted in order to get a full perspective on what they are accomplishing on the parish level. What is wonderful about what Jamie and Deacon Tom are doing is that they are providing a simple, no anxiety-no pressure structure through which the Holy Spirit can move the person to unite … Continue reading ORO et CREO: PART THREE – A Personal Reflection
Soon after an article appeared in our Diocesan newspaper (The Rhode Island Catholic) in June 2011 on the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, I spoke on the phone with a talented artist by the name of Jamie Medeiros. We talked about the mission and goals of the Fra Angelico Institute and then she explained to me the mission of a group that she started at her parish in Tiverton, RI. Her group’s name is Oro et Creo (I Pray – I Create). I was fascinated by her description since it clearly was another example of the Holy Spirit’s … Continue reading ORO et CREO: “I Pray – I Create” – Part One
All of us struggle with the reality that the experiences of our life may harden our hearts and deafen our ears to God’s truth. We may be similar to the disciples in this past Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 24: 35-48), who were filled with anxiety – until – – the moment “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus shows them the nail wounds in His hands and feet. He explains to them that the Scriptures teach that we cannot have glory and honor without the willingness to suffer and die to our own sinful will and perceptions. He teaches them … Continue reading Shaped By The Potter’s Hands
Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants – we are all an Easter people. For two thousand years we have – through faith in historical documents and human witness – been invited to believe in a divine act of revelation: the Easter resurrection of our Lord and Savior; for it is in that act that our God shows us who He truly is. We believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a historical and spiritual fact; and that the resurrection of Jesus not only explains the truth of His promises but it demonstrates what has been promised to us. On the first Easter … Continue reading Our Living Hope: The Tomb Cannot Hold Us
“Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on the earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone … Continue reading Holy Saturday Meditation: Something Strange Is Happening
It was about nine in the morning when they nailed Jesus to the cross. From noon until three o’clock there was darkness over the whole world. At three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? It is finished. When we were His enemies, God reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son. Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price: the blood of … Continue reading Good Friday Meditations
In the passage from the first Epistle of Peter known as the Canticle of Peter (1 Peter 2: 21-24) Peter describes Jesus’ acceptance of His passion. He explains: “Christ suffered for you, and left you an example to have you follow in His footsteps. He did no wrong; no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. Instead He delivered Himself up to the One who judges justly. In His own body He brought your sins to the cross, so that all … Continue reading What Does The Silence Of Christ Say To Us?
In this series on the Artist As Contemplative it is my hope that you are exposed to some different techniques that may assist you in your prayer relationship with Our Lord. The last post in this series specifically mentioned that we do not need to use many words during prayer. This may be uncomfortable for us at first since we have developed into a species that appears to constantly need some type of noise, talk, music, or in some cases, cacophony going on inside our mind. I am not a social psychologist so I will not venture a reason for … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 4 – A Meditation on the Scourging of Christ
At the birth of Christ, the seven hundred year old messianic prophecies of the prophet Isaiah became an historic reality. On a yearly basis, we celebrate and remember that moment on the Feast day of St. Joseph, the patron of the universal Church; for we see in Joseph not only a loyal husband and foster father of Jesus – our Savior – but also a man of conviction and prayer. Upon hearing that Mary is pregnant Joseph is filled with pain and anger. Understandably, at first, he is not ready to say “yes” to Mary and her story of divine … Continue reading The Feast of St. Joseph – Universal Patron of the Church
The Gospel of St Mark, chapter 9: 14-29, challenges us to ask ourselves the question “How does the effective disciple of Jesus live his or her life?” Clearly the ineffectiveness of Jesus’ disciples in doing His work is evidenced when the father of the possessed boy complains to Jesus that His disciples were unable to help his son, and even questions the power of Jesus to intervene on his son’s behalf. Jesus responds with disappointment tinged with anger over the actions of some of His disciples; people who took it upon themselves to act in Jesus’ name but were not … Continue reading Making Room In Your Heart for God, Prayer, and Creativity
There is a very striking phrase from yesterday morning’s Gospel: Mark says, “…and when they got out of the boat, the people at once recognized Him…” – they immediately recognized Him. The question that begs to be asked is “If they immediately recognized Him – what did they recognize?” Was it just the fact that they identified a teacher of profound importance, or a powerful prophet, or a new healer with extraordinary ability? Or did they recognize the fact that this person was someone totally above and beyond that – a man truly sent from God – to do God’s … Continue reading Perilous Times For People Of All Faiths
Today, January 23rd, is the Feast Day of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. St. Vincent was a deacon and served as a minister and trustworthy pastoral assistant of Bishop Valerius, of Saragossa, Spain. He was martyred in the year 304 during the ferocious persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Saint Vincent is the most famous martyr of Spain, and St. Augustine testifies to this in his sermons that Vincent’s acts of love and loyalty to Jesus Christ, and service to the Catholic faith, were so respected that they were read and discussed in all the churches of North Africa. Owing to the … Continue reading St. Vincent of Saragossa – Martyr – And An Artistic Challenge!
St. Thomas, in his Summa Theologiae, has a wonderful meditation on today’s Solemnity of the Epiphany. He says that “Salvation was to be through Christ and apply to all sorts and conditions of men because in Christ Jesus there cannot be Greek or Jew, slave and free man. In order that this should be foreshadowed in Christ’s birth, he was made known to men and women of all conditions, because as St. Augustine says, the shepherds were Israelites, the Magi were Gentiles, the first were near, the latter from afar: both hastened to Christ the cornerstone…. The Magi were wise … Continue reading Whose Star Do We Follow?
A very clear narrative greeted us in yesterday morning’s 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. … Continue reading Five Days Before Christmas: A Unique Story About The Graciousness of God
The following photograph haunts my mind. I found it on the blog (http://soulblindministry.com/2011/12/12/necessity/) of an artist who had a horrific life changing experience and has now turned his life, and possibly his art, over to Christ. The photo stopped me cold. But you say, these shoppers could be wonderful, God fearing, neighbor loving people. True enough. Then, why do you judge them? I don’t. It’s the entire photograph. It makes me judge, and question, myself – in relation to God and my neighbor. This is truly one of the functions of the sacred arts. Copyright © 2011 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All … Continue reading Sacred Photography – A Shot That Will Rock Your Soul
Today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of all the Americas, recalls the apparition of our Blessed Mother on the hill of Tepeyac in present day Mexico City from December 9th through the 12th in the year 1531. Guadalupe is the Spanish translation of the Aztec phrase that Juan Diego heard Mary associate herself with – the name, interestingly, in Aztec means “she will crush the serpent of stone.” In the same year – 1531 – thousands of miles away in what today we call Germany – Martin Luther was pro- claiming his doctrine of protest and rebellion from … Continue reading A Beautiful Pregnant Young Woman And Her Message To A Weary World
1) Mary’s Personal History Tradition tells us that Mary was the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne. They were devoted Jews who raised their child to be loyal and pure within the Jewish holy tradition. Mary was born within the royal line of King David and was betrothed and later married Joseph, a respected Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. Little is known of Mary’s day-to-day life other than the references to her in the Gospels. Those early references indicate that she was a loving, concerned, and devoted person. During her Son’s ministry she attended the wedding feast at Cana, was present at … Continue reading The Immaculate Conception – A Time To Reflect On The Meaning of Mary
One of the first St. Francis of Assisi parishioners to contact me to become a member of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is a wonderful lady and artist by the name of Valerie Szlatenyi. In our discussion she shared with me the work she had recently done for the Wakefield Baptist Church Memorial Garden here in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The work is a large garden mosaic casting in glass and stone. It appears in a quiet corner on the Baptist Church yard grounds. Valerie described the process she went through as she decided upon her composition for … Continue reading Stones and Sea Glass Can Tell A Story – The Art of Valerie Szlatenyi
Another South Kingstown, Rhode Island artist, a fine gentleman by the name of Peter D. Spaine, contacted me this past summer when he read about the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts in an early June issue of the RI Catholic newspaper. He invited me to his home where I met his lovely wife Marlene, and viewed his studio while discussing the goals of the Institute. We chatted about sacred iconography while I enjoyed his paintings and wood carvings. Peter has a great studio space and it is filled with an assortment of his paintings that depict pirates, Civil War … Continue reading Just A Minute Mr. Disney – Let’s Take A Look At The Art Of Peter D. Spaine!
The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, as a gathering place for sacred artists to create, share, learn, and pray together about their creation of sacred art, has blossomed into a small organization that has met the spiritual and creative needs of a number of people within, and outside, of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. This post, and the next three posts, will continue to discuss and display some of the work that was displayed by member artists at our Autumn meeting. One of those artists is the talented Eric Peter McLaughlin. Eric is an artist and a … Continue reading Shades of Monet – The Art of Eric Peter McLaughlin
After an article explaining the mission of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts appeared last June in our Diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic, I received a call from a lovely young woman by the name of Jamie Medeiros. She explained that she was from Massachusetts and that she, too, had been touched by the Holy Spirit to offer people the opportunity to blend the creation of beauty with personal prayer. She described the process through which she currently leads people to express themselves in art while they are praying – actually to make prayer part of their … Continue reading A Custodian of Beauty – The Talent of Artist Jamie Medeiros
One of the Institute’s members, Trudy Manney, has been an important contributor to St. Francis of Assisi Parish here in Wakefield, RI for many years. She is a painter and she also restores statues. If you ever visit St. Francis Church you will see the beautiful job she did in restoring the statue of our Blessed Mother. Trudy correctly composed the colors of Our Lady’s garments and did a fine job in her color choice for the skin tones of both the Blessed Mother and the infant Jesus. Besides the restoration of the Blessed Mother’s statue, Trudy also recently restored … Continue reading The Lovely Work of Artist Trudy Manney
Two weeks ago, at our Autumn Meeting of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, some of the members displayed examples of their secular and sacred art. The mission of the Institute is to deepen the prayer life of its participants by evangelizing the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through the understanding and creation of sacred art. Some of our members were involved in this effort before they became participants in the Institute – evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in many different ways, through the efforts of a variety of talents, to express the truth, beauty, … Continue reading The Beautiful Lace Needlework of Esther Paris
My wife and I were invited by Catholictv.com to appear on their network on November 4, 2011 to explain the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts and its relation to the New Evangelization of the Church. We appeared on the “This Is The Day” show hosted by Father Robert Reed and Mr. Jay Fadden. We appear approximately seventeen minutes into the show. The interview lasts about twelve minutes. You can catch our appearance on your cable TV channel if you have Comcast, VerizonFIOS, or Sky Angel, (however, they are not on Cox), or double click on the address below … Continue reading The Fra Angelico Institute’s Appearance on Catholictv.com
The following is a homily that I gave during the Inaugural Mass of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts which occurred on Friday October 28, 2011 at St. Francis of Assisi Church (Diocese of Providence) in Wakefield, Rhode Island USA. The Institute can be contacted at email@example.com for membership information. We are on Facebook at Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. Tonight’s inaugural Mass of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts falls on the feast day of two Apostles – Saints Simon and Jude Thaddeus. The Gospel for today’s feast, speaks of how Jesus called the disciples … Continue reading Fra Angelico and Your Mission as a Sacred Artist
David Clayton, artist in residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, has written a wonderful essay that capsulizes the essential nature of what Pope Benedict 16th is saying about creating a culture of beauty. It should be required reading by all seminarians, clerics, and laypeople who are interested in evangelization and the recreation of a culture of beauty based on sound Gospel principles and the appeal to our innate sense of the beautiful. Please copy and paste the link below into your search engine bar and it should pop up for you. http://thewayofbeauty.org/2011/10/the-psalms-and-the-evangelisation-of-the-culture/ … Continue reading Beauty Built on Gospel Values
All the events of human history have to be backlit by the reality of our faith that God does not abandon His people. An example of this truth is today’s memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. This memorial was established by Pope St. Pius 5th in thanksgiving for the Catholic victory over the Muslim army and navy at the famous battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Many rosaries were said by the European faithful during the battle to stem the tide of the Islamic invasion. The admiral for the Catholic Fleet, Andrea Doria, had the miraculous image of … Continue reading Our Lady of the Rosary
Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is one of the patrons of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. St. Francis reminds us how we admire, and should emulate, the virtues of the saints. When we meditate on the life of St. Francis – three characteristics of spirit – three virtues – emerge. First, 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 tried, and was successful, at eliminating everything from his … Continue reading St. Francis of Assisi, Simplicity, and Sacred Artists
In this morning’s Gospel St. Luke is clear that Jesus is carefully listening to the argument that breaks out among His disciples as to who is the greatest among them. One translation has St. Luke saying, “He perceives the thoughts in their hearts.” It would be prudent to say that we are all psychologically and theologically hardwired to look for approval. King David wrote of this in the Psalms when he said: “You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with honor and glory.” David recognized the fact that we are something special in the grand scheme … Continue reading Sacred Artists Must Be Empty Vessels
As we continue our discussion of sacred iconography it is imperative that we take a historical view and look at the major contribution the Byzantine Empire and its civilization made to this sacred art form. When we speak of the Byzantine Empire we are referring, initially, to the eastern region of the Roman Empire. The Roman civilization was eight hundred years old when it began to feel the pressure of highly motivated foreign tribes that desired to pick away at her borders and plunder her cities. By the fourth century AD the Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Empire … Continue reading The Challenge of Sacred Iconography – Part 2: The Byzantine Empire – Justinian and the Church of Holy Wisdom
Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation – or Triumph – of the Holy Cross. The early Catholic Church was intensely persecuted during the first 280 years of its life – so the symbol of the Cross – the symbol of public humiliation and excruciating death – was rarely used in our Christian iconography. But this doesn’t mean that the early Christians were reluctant to express their devotion to the Cross. Writing in the year 204, the Christian theologian Tertullian said: “At every going in and out, when we put on our clothes, when we sit at table, in … Continue reading The Triumph of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows by Jed Gibbons
My wife Jackie and I had the pleasure to meet Mr. David Clayton, artist-in-residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH at a lecture he gave this week in New Hampshire. David is a fine artist, teacher, and creator of The Way of Beauty blog and program at the College. He posted comments on 9/9/11 on the connection and application of artistic traditions within the American experience. His blog was posted on The New Liturgical Movement’s website and is attached here: www.newliturgicalmovement.org. David has a quality to his artistic perception that needs to be mentioned as valuable for all … Continue reading David Clayton, Needle Arts, Music, and the Creation of Beauty
We cannot allow this day, September 8th, to slip by without celebrating the nativity of our Blessed Mother. For as the Invitatory in the Roman Breviary says for today’s feast: “Come, let us celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary, let us worship her Son, Christ the Lord.” It is right, and proper, and good that we do this. Inspired by divine Wisdom, the Holy Church of Jesus Christ, has through the years been fractured, tempted, and bruised by the assaults of Satan. Yet, in this feast we remember that we are saved, that Satan, ultimately, has been defeated by … Continue reading The Birth of Mary – The Pure Disciple Who Shows Us the Way
What is iconography? The Sacred Iconography Guild is one of the twelve Sacred Arts Guilds that is sponsored by the Fra Angelico Institute. As of this post we have six members of this Guild who have expressed interest in learning this particular artistic tradition of the Church. Unfortunately, many people in the 21st century do not know the traditions of the Western (Latin, that is the Roman and affiliated rites of the Church) or the Eastern (Orthodox, that is the Coptic, Greek, Russian, and other Middle Eastern Rites) of Christ’s Church. All of these Rites have beautiful liturgies, the Sacraments … Continue reading Sacred Iconography and Personal Creativity – Do Not be Afraid!
Today is the memorial of the Coronation of our Blessed Mother. Sacred icons and images have expressed the Queenship and Coronation of the Holy Theotokos – the Mother of God – for at least 1500 years. 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 reputed to be a copy of one that was painted by St. Luke the evangelist who tradition states … Continue reading The Eternal Now and the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Over the past two weeks, our Sunday Gospels have stressed the truth that to be a faithful disciple of Christ we must keep our focus – in good times and bad – on Jesus. On August 15th, the solemnity of the Assumption/Dormition of Mary, the Church again directs our gaze – for in focusing on Mary we see not only our Queen – but the one true sign – the Great Sign – who points the way to her Son. Her signature was that of a perfect disciple – for she possessed the confident competence and the courageous commitment – … Continue reading The Dormition – Assumption of Mary
Fra Angelico painted (fresco) this image between 1447 – 1449. It is found in the Vatican. It is approximately 9 by 7 feet and portrays the deacon, St. Lawrence, distributing the Church’s monies to the poor of Rome. St. Lawrence is wearing a beautiful rose colored dalmatic A dalmatic is the outer garment that is worn over an alb, stole, and cincture. The dalmatic represents the deacon’s service to his bishop. It is only worn during the celebration of Holy Mass. St. Lawrence was martyred on August 10, 257. If you are interested in a more detailed review of the history of St. Lawrence please refer … Continue reading Fra Angelico’s Beautiful Image of St. Lawrence
Today’s Gospel reading cuts right to the heart of the matter – and asks the question: do we have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? St. Peter certainly came face-to-face with that question. As a commercial fisherman he knew how dangerous that storm was and that his boat and companions could easily perish in its waves. Then, suddenly, Jesus appears – walking on the water. The companions respond – “It’s a ghost!” Jesus calms them and says “Get a hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid!” Peter speaks up and says, “Lord, if it is really you, … Continue reading A Reflection on St. Matthew 14: 22-33
We, here at the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, believe that the foundation stones for this Institute are its Sacred Arts Guilds. A Sacred Arts Guild is a collection of people within a specific type of art form such as painting, sculpture, wood-carving, story writing, music, etc. The Sacred Arts Guilds are made up of those artists who are willing to come together on-line through posting and commenting with me on this blog, and when possible, in person to discuss and share their sacred art with other interested artists, and, if working in the same field, be willing … Continue reading What is a Sacred Arts Guild?
Our First Post As our first post – on August 1, 2011 – I would like to explain that the mission of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is to promote the creation of Christian sacred art and unite the creative process to the artist’s personal prayer life. Over the coming months we will be discussing various topics within the sacred arts, the creation of sacred art, important sacred artists from the past and present, and the development of our personal prayer life in union with our personal creative efforts. The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts … Continue reading Welcome to the Fra Angelico Institute