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 Catechetics and Catholic Art
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
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
Today, Holy Saturday, is observed by the Western and Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, and other denominations as the Anastasis (Greek, “resurrection”), or the Harrowing of Hell by Jesus Christ. In this harrowing, Christ’s purpose was to free the righteous people of the Old and New Testaments from their inability to enter Heaven. This occurred because of their death prior to the passion and death of Jesus. His Redemptive acts freed them from what Roman Catholics would call Purgatory and the Eastern Rites and some Protestant denominations would call Hades. There are over fifteen verses and references found in … Continue reading Holy Saturday/Easter 2020
The author of the interesting and challenging blog site on sacred art and its analysis called Catchlight sent me two questions yesterday. They related to my last post which was entitled Fatima Messages, Pagans in the Vatican, and the End Times. 1d ago Paul, your protestations begs the question, do pagans go to Heaven? If so, why? If not, why not? from Bernard Gallagher These are excellent questions. Before I attempt to answer them my readers should understand that I am a committed Roman Catholic. These questions will be answered through the lens of the teachings of my faith. That Faith … Continue reading Do Pagans Go To Heaven or Hell?
October 13, 2019 commemorates the last message in the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary by three Portuguese children. The children’s ages were six through nine, and they lived in the town of Fatima, Portugal. The apparitions occurred over a five month period which began on May 13th and ended on October 13, 1917. The Roman Catholic Church, after a period of study, formally declared in 1930 that these apparitions are worthy of belief by the faithful. It is wise to remember that many supposed apparitions have occurred over the centuries that have not been approved by Church authorities. In … Continue reading Fatima Messages, Pagans in the Vatican, and the End Times
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. In her honor let us review some the Church’s truths; dogmas which progressed to the point of Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaiming the meaning of the Blessed Mother’s life and her Assumption into Heaven. We are able to see this progression through Sacred Scripture, the various early ecumenical Councils of the Church, the individual writings of the early Church fathers (such as St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Cassian, St. Vincent of Lerins, St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Augustine, St. John of Damascus, and the Gothic Missal of the 6th century). The … Continue reading The Assumption of Our Mother Mary – We Venerate Her Today
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
“God of all compassion, Father of all goodness, to heal the wounds our sins and selfishness bring upon us You bid us turn to fasting, prayer, and sharing with our brothers and sisters. We acknowledge our sinfulness, our guilt is ever before us; when our weakness causes discouragement, let your compassion fill us with hope and lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy. Grant this through Christ our Lord.”* Amen. *Roman Breviary – Vol. 2; Third Sunday of Lent, Evening Prayer I, Closing Prayer, pg. 210. Continue reading God is a God of Compassion
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
In the past four posts I briefly reviewed the following topics: Part 1: What is Art, Part 2: Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Categories, Part 3: Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Painting Schematic, and Part 4: Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Three Major and Minor Stages. Today in Part 5, I would like to provide you with a brief review of a major, historically based, theological theme that directly impacts the creation of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Greek/Russian sacred art. It is an historical fact that in the year AD 30, the Roman historian Tacitus writes in his Annals that … Continue reading Roman Catholic Sacred Art – Part Five: The First Theological Theme
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
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
If you click on the Tab in the Menu titled St. Joseph’s Art Workshop, and scroll down, you will find my recent addition (as of April 26, 2018) on painting a sacred image. That new post – LESSON 2 – describes obtaining, drawing, and applying a sacred image to a wood panel. Enjoy! April 26, 2018 © Deacon Paul O. Iacono 2011-2018 Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop, Lesson 2: Obtaining, Drawing, and Applying the Sacred Image to A Panel
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