The other night I watched the popular, opinionated, and entertaining BBC art historian Waldemar Januszczak discuss Medieval and Renaissance art. Over the years he has presented many shows on various artists and artistic movements. His programs, while informative, are distinctly opinionated. That’s fine, there is no law saying that you can’t present your own opinions (the exception, of course, being social media). In one of his shows Mr. Januszczak briefly mentioned the Shroud of Turin. He said that the Shroud is a fake, a forgery, a bogus remnant of Medieval skullduggery. Yet, based on over fifty years of scientific research one … Continue reading Waldemar Januszczak Is Wrong About the Shroud of Turin
This list is not a typical statement for my blog owing to the fact that it normally concerns sacred art and catechesis; however, I felt I needed to compose and share my thoughts with you. The views below are solely mine and are not meant to imply they have the endorsement of my Diocese (Providence, RI, USA). My original points were posted on November 1, 2020. I revised the title, from “National Suicide” to “The Suicide of a Nation.” I also have added a few additional comments. The United States of America consists of fifty states that are ruled by … Continue reading Suicide of a Nation
What is our strategic plan in the Holy War to save our personal faith? The overall plan is simple: it is to win the war for our soul. Our tactics are paramount. For they must be in sync with the truth that God has given us Free Will (the ability to make decisions) and Reason (the ability to think through and logically make those decisions in the light of Scripture and Tradition). What are the tactics that support our efforts? The first is to realize that we are not powerless. Our God-given freedom allows us to make personal decisions for … Continue reading Holy War: The Battle for Our Souls and the Soul of the Church
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
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
by Deacon Paul O. Iacono, Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island USA 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. “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 and Traditional Roman Catholic. His questions will be answered … 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
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
Okay, we have reached Wednesday, the supposed day that if we can just get through it we will be on the downward slide toward the weekend. In an attempt to put a little pick-me-up in your afternoon I ask you to put aside your pencils, pens, and paint brushes and take 4 minutes and 9 seconds to listen to a “Dude Rocks Out Amazing Grace on the Piano.” The “Dude” in the green jacket and rose colored glasses is Terry Miles. He is an accomplished pianist, yet, this day he sits down to a public piano in a London train … Continue reading Amazing Grace – Amazing Piano!
“And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.” … Continue reading Roman Catholic Sacred Art: A Prayer to Accompany The First Theological Theme