One of my goals in painting the above image of St. Peter was to provide a catechist/observer with seven focus ideas within one image. This sacred image also presents some of the life events of the “Rock” on which Jesus Christ built His Church. I have painted this image with the approach of the Naive/Folk Art genre or “school.” I will discuss the Naive/Folk art approach in my next post. Below are my seven fundamental ideas that can be used as a lesson plan(s) for the above image: The image is based on Christ’s words and Peter’s actions within the New … Continue reading Catechesis and Naive Sacred Art: St. Peter – A Lesson Plan
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
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
A subscriber recently asked me about the process of the movement of sacred art from a local church or cathedral into a secular or religiously affiliated museum and is there a specific “Rite” of the Church that applies to this situation? Before I answer the question allow me to provide a quick review in reference to the word “Rite/rite.” When a capital “R” is used it refers to specific Rites, such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the Rite of Baptism, the Rite of Anointing of the Sick, etc. Also, a capital R is used when referring to … Continue reading Sacred Art – Its Fate When a Catholic Church Closes Its Doors
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
A few readers have emailed me to say that they are having a problem linking to the film mentioned in yesterday’s post. Since many subscribers receive these postings through their email address the easiest way to link to the film is to click on the blue title of the post that appears at the top of your opened email. When you single or double click on this blue title you are redirected to the actual website. The film appears within the website posting. Another way to connect to the film is to go down to the last part of the opened email and you … Continue reading Link to the Film Within the Post: The Sacred Artist’s Cultivation of Silence
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
This past July I had the pleasure of restoring an icon that was written by the fine artist, Albert Lapierre, from Attleboro, Massachusetts. It is a beautifully done and was commissioned by Joan O’Gara on the occasion of the birthday of her sister, Rosalind, in October, 1998. Rosalind told me that her sister knew of her appreciation and devotion to the Gospel account of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth; however, Joan was not able to locate a print of this particular icon. In 1997 Joan decided to contact Albert Lapierre who was resposible for the creation of … Continue reading Albert Lapierre – Sacred Artist and Iconographer
The Gospel of Luke 8:16-18 emphasizes that God desires us to respond to His generosity by using our gifts in union with His wisdom and grace. The Lord desires to give us His gifts but He also desires to challenge us. As good stewards of His wisdom, we are not meant to conceal Wisdom’s Light under a “vessel or hide it under a bed.” By virtue of our Baptism, we are all sent out into the vineyard – some early – some late, but called and sent nonetheless, to proclaim the good news of God’s salvation. We need to remember, … Continue reading Discipleship, Wisdom’s Light, and the Art of Charles Bosseron Chambers
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
Friend and fellow sacred artist David Clayton, in association with Leila Marie Lawler, has written a wonderful book entitled The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home. Sophia Institute Press published this book in the spring of 2014. In a beautiful writing style that is truly accessible to all readers, Clayton and Lawler explain the purpose of a home oratory, the role that prayer, chant, and sacred art can play in the life of an individual or family, and the significance of maintaining a faith filled prayer life with young and adolescent children. The word oratory derives … Continue reading The Little Oratory – A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home – A New Book by Clayton and Lawler
It is the evening hour on the first Easter Sunday. Gathered in the upper room the Apostles were in turmoil. They doubt. They fear. They have lost their sense of trust. They believed that Jesus was dead; and they knew that the Temple guards had orders to arrest all of them on sight. Earlier that morning, Peter and John had entered Jesus’ tomb, and came away amazed at what they saw. But the other Apostles in that room (all were present except Judas and Thomas) had not witnessed the empty tomb. The doors to the upper chamber, like their hearts and minds, … Continue reading St. Thomas: Skeptic, Cynic, and Repentant Saint
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
A fascinating series of articles came to my attention today by Tatjana Jovanovic, a top contributor of a Linkedin group called Medieval and Renaissance Art, Antiques, Architecture, Archaeology, History and Music. Her article is entitled “Medieval Banksy: Confession of Medieval Graffiti Artist, Monk, and Writer.” Ms. Jovanovic is an aesthetician and artistic designer. She basis her article on two pieces that appeared in the US edition of The Guardian/The Observer. The first by Matt Champion provides a gallery of 13th and 14th century graffiti that is being collected by a British association known as the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/mar/29/medieval-graffiti-pictures-lydgate A second … Continue reading Medieval Graffiti in English Churches – The Case of John Lydgate, O.S.B.
This past month the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts was happy to sponsor a two day workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to introduce people to the idea that everyone has the capacity for expressing themselves in art. Using acrylic paints the participants were taught the process of “seeing” an image of a rose, breaking down its component parts, drawing the rose, applying and mixing pigments, painting the rose, etc. Our desire was to ultimately interest people, who possibly never considered themselves as having artistic talent, to see that they could paint a good quality representation of … Continue reading A Recent Art Workshop Leads to Another! – The Fra Angelico Institute
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
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
Floridian Sean Keohane, a member of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts, and a participant in the beautiful CBS/Paulist Production of “The Nativity” sent me the following information on an American television Christmas Eve Special that will be broadcast this Tuesday evening on CBS at 11:30 PM. You will want to set your DVR’s to record the show. I am sure that it will prove to be quite beautiful and a wonderful addition to your enjoyment of the holy Christmas season. Sean is an artist and has been working with the famous Henson puppeters and the Jim Henson … Continue reading “The Nativity” – Presented by the Jim and Jane Henson Family Puppets – Christmas Eve on CBS
Our Gospel today (4th Sunday of Advent, Matthew 1: 18-24)) provides us with the story of a young couple, Mary and Joseph, who through their pondering of God’s request for understanding and trust provide humanity with the opportunity for divine Redemption. It is in their collective “Yes” to the angel’s request, that God’s plan could be fulfilled. His strategy for humanity’s Redemption was patiently planned and executed. It was a plan, seen in the Holy Scriptures, that shows Him searching for His broken human family, seeking ways in which He can communicate His desire for love and friendship. God is very methodical in His … Continue reading Mary and Joseph’s “Yes” – The Risk of an Open Heart
If you have a moment, click on this link, expand the very brief video to full screen, then sit back and enjoy the playfulness of God and the gift of His creative grace. After watching it, I composed a few verses, which I share with you. http://www.guideposts.org/video/mysterious-ways/the-miracle-of-flight?int_source=MysteriousWays&int_medium=RN&int_campaign=Starlingmurmurations Thanksgiving Grace, the gift of God’s energy; the sharing of Divine life. God plays with His creation – mutual joy crashes in on our senses, like the lovely waves of the starlings’ wings, to drench us with His beauty. Grace, God freely shares His friendship. We are graced. We rejoice and give thanks. Copyright © 2011- 2013 Deacon … Continue reading God’s Playfulness – Video and Verse
The following is a homily that will be delivered by Deacon Paul O. Iacono at St. Francis of Assisi Church, South Kingstown, Rhode Island on the weekend of August 17/18 2013. In our first Scriptural reading for this weekend (Jeremiah 38: 4-6, 8-10) we see the prophet Jeremiah thrown into a well as a result of his faith-filled preaching. He was lowered into a mud filled cistern in an attempt to shut him up and tame his ability to disturb the people’s apathy. A month ago we witnessed the spiritually uplifting events of Steubenville East held here in South Kingstown, … Continue reading The Gospel of St. Luke 12: 49-53 – The Sword of Christ
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
The article below is reblogged from the always informative Orthodox Arts Journal. The article is the 9th in a series about sacred iconography that was written by Brother Aidan Hart, a British iconographer. Brother Hart has written extensively on all aspects of sacred iconography and has recently published a very comprehensive book on the subject called Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting. The editor at the Orthodox Arts Journal highly recommends it. Brother Hart’s articles are available at his website and he also offers sacred iconography workshops in Britain. This nine part article is well worth the effort of perusing … Continue reading Aidan Hart’s New Book on Sacred Iconography
In our Scriptures for the 3rd Sunday of Easter we have the extraordinary contrast of St. Peter’s deeds in the first reading with that of his behavior in our Gospel. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see Peter’s defiance of the priests and the elders in the Temple. This defiance is in direct contrast to his cowardice two months earlier on the night of Jesus’ arrest; and it also differs from what we visualize in today’s Gospel. The events of this Gospel occur before our first reading and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. … Continue reading St. Peter’s Affirmation of His Love for Christ Is A Model for Us
My sincere thanks to Jonathan Pageau at the Orthodox Arts Journal, http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/, for permission to repost his wonderful presentation of the sacred icon miniatures of Russian artist Evgeny Baranov and the spectacular icon wood carvings by Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov. We must take care when we paint/”write” large icons, yet, to complete an icon miniature or a wood carving, with such grace and spiritual truth, demands in my humble opinion, even more skill and patience! Enjoy, and be filled with astonishment! To see all of Baranov’s miniatures please visit their site:www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/miniature-icons-by-evgeny-baranov/ . To see the lovely icon wood carvings of the Asbuhanov’s please … Continue reading Evgeny Baranov’s Miniature Icons and Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov Icon Carvings
“The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by His blood, alleluia.” “Our Redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, alleluia.” “Alleluia, the Lord is risen as He promised, alleluia.” God our Father, by raising Christ Your Son You conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us [through our Baptism into Your Life]. Grant this through our Lord Jesus … Continue reading Easter 2013
“Come, let us worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with His Precious Blood.” “If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, a one year old male, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possible save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the … Continue reading Good Friday
At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior entrusted to His Church the memorial of His death and resurrection. This memorial came to us through the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, a memorial that He intended would be celebrated forever by His Church in the magnificent prayer that is known as the Holy Mass. Let us adore Him, and say: Jesus, sanctify Your people, redeemed by Your blood. Lord, You humbled Yourself by being obedient to the Father’s will, even to accepting death, death on a cross. Please give all who faithfully serve You the gifts of: … Continue reading The Last Supper – Jesus as Servant, Christ as Sacrifice: An Evening Meditation
I am interrupting my series on Theophilus the Presbyter and the affect he had on the development Medieval art and technology with this post that just came in from the Catholic News Service/EWTN. The following article is very important and relevant to our understanding of the significant role that his Holiness Emeritus Benedict XVI had in moving the Church forward while appreciating and applying the beauty of our faith, in all of its component parts, to our holy liturgy, prayer, and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord. This understanding contributes to our appreciation of what it means to be a member … Continue reading Beauty – “The Great Legacy” of Pope Benedict XVI
Please take a moment to read the first part of this multi-part essay that I posted a few days ago. I am requesting that you do this in order for you to understand my perspective on creating contemporary sacred art within the Latin Rite. Creating sacred art for me is a service ministry. It is a ministry through which a sacred artist unites him or herself to God’s Redemptive efforts. If you are a Baptized Christian who has been educated in the faith, regardless of the Rite or the denomination, you know that the Christian faith requires you to cooperate … Continue reading Theophilus, the Art of Iconography, and the Contemporary Sacred Artist – Part 2
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
Even though the vast majority of us are not astronomers, the famous star of Bethlehem still has a great ability to intrigue us especially as it relates to its actual astronomical occurrence. As Christians we believe in the Christmas story, not as legend or myth, but as an actual historical occurrence which led to the Redemption of mankind by the Son of God – Jesus Christ. There are many elements of the Nativity of Christ that are expressed by the evangelists, and one of the most interesting is the illumination of Israel by a brilliant star at the time of … Continue reading The Christmas Star of Bethlehem – Merry Christmas, Everyone!
In this morning’s Gospel from St. Luke (17: 1-6) we hear Jesus imploring His disciples to teach and practice the art of forgiveness toward those who hurt and abuse us, our families, and friends. Jesus is teaching that it is so important for people who want to be considered His disciples to follow His example and in no way offer a bad example or scandal to others. Jesus is emphasizing the power of faith to assist us in our efforts to be His disciples. People of faith possess the grace to forgive others. Our desire to model Jesus enables our … Continue reading Bishop Josaphat Kuncevych – A Saint of Forgiveness and Unity
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Roman Breviary tells us that in a sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux he explains that “The martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted. He went on to say to Mary: And your own heart will be pierced by a sword.” Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. That feast asks us … Continue reading Our Lady of Sorrows – Seven Sorrows – Seven Graces
Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. During the first 280 years of its life the Catholic Church was severely persecuted. 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 all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace … Continue reading The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Jesus
Today is the memorial of St. Monica, the extraordinarily faith-filled mother of St. Augustine. In the year 321, Monica was born in Algeria into a family that was devoutly Christian. As a child she was baptized a Christian and was raised to be a dutiful wife. She was given in marriage to a bad tempered, adulterous pagan official, by the name of Patricius. In examining the life of Saint Monica one is struck by the extent of the abuse she and other women endured throughout their marriage. Under the laws of the time Monica’s husband could physically and emotionally abuse … Continue reading Saint Monica – Patron of Mothers
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 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!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This feast has been celebrated since the 5th century. It was inserted into the general calendar of the Church in 1457 by Pope Callistus III in order to celebrate the defeat of the advancing Moslem army in the Serbian city of Belgrade. Today’s feast was announced in Rome on August 6, 1457, and was placed in the calendar to occur forty days before the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, on September 14. Let’s reflect for a moment on today’s Gospel account (Mark 9: 2-10). Jesus knew … Continue reading The Transfiguration of Christ
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
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
My favorite sacred icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the 6th century encaustic icon of Christ Pantocrator (Christ The Almighty One) from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula. This sacred image was a paradigm shift in the way early Christians viewed and portrayed Jesus Christ. This icon (shown below) is not the thin young Messiah of the Catacombs, or the Roman nobleman presentation of the first four centuries of Church art (for examples confer Pierre du Bourguet’s book on Early Christian Painting). The Sinai Christ Pantocrator is portrayed as a robust Semitic man, who knows exactly what He is about, what His … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: PART 3
The sacred icon is a visual aid that helps the person enter into a conversation with God, an angel, or a saint. If a sacred icon is to be painted with this purpose in mind then it it is a major responsibility of the sacred artist to construct the icon so that it may serve, rather than interfere with or destroy, that purpose. Thus, it is necessary for the sacred artist to curb the desire for ornateness, since it might detract from the prayer itself by focusing the viewer’s eyes on embellishment versus Person, or saint. Of all the physical … Continue reading Part Two: Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons
On Wednesday evening, May 23rd, ten members of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts here in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island USA were commissioned and blessed to begin their study, here at the Institute, and work to become competent painters of sacred icons. As we approach the Solemnity of Pentecost we can certainly see the movement of the Holy Spirit in this work. We are reminded of a commentary by St. Cyril of Alexandria, the bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt during the years of 412 to his death in 444. He was a man … Continue reading A New Class of Iconographers Begin Their Studies: The Work of The Holy Spirit
Today is the feast day of St. Matthias. The Acts of the Apostles relate that Matthias was chosen by lot to replace the disciple who had betrayed Jesus in the garden. In chapter 18 of our Gospel, St. John speaks of Judas, who was in collusion with the Romans and the Jewish elders, and brought them to the place where Jesus was staying in the garden; the betrayal took place and the deaths occurred. In the period after Jesus’ death the Apostles were known as the Eleven. The Eleven. A title which causes us to pause, even today, two thousand years … Continue reading St. Matthias and the Renewal of Easter Hope – The Lord Loves His Friends
A few months ago I discovered the exquisite photography of Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey. They have a blog here on WordPress called Via Lucis. Their post of May 10th discusses and shows the beauty of a Romanesque church (Our Lady of the Assumption) located in the Burgundy region of France. Dennis entitles the church as “The Great Survivor.” When you read the fascinating history of this church (a priory church was first built on this site in the 9th century) you see that it is, indeed, a great survivor. For it has survived the onslaughts of man’s barbarity in … Continue reading Stones that Sing – The Photography of Dennis Aubrey and PJ McKey
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
This is the second part of a three part series with Jamie Medeiros, an artist whose parish is in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and Deacon Tom Lambert, a Permanent Deacon within the Diocese of Chicago, and whose parish is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Chicago, Illinois. Please be sure to read Part One of this two part interview in order to obtain a complete understanding of what the Lambert/Medeiros model of prayer and the creation of art is trying to accomplish. It is a model easily applicable to any Christian parish, within any Christian denomination, in the world. The Interview: … Continue reading ORO et CREO: I Pray – I Create – Part Two – A Wonderful Idea For Your Church
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
“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
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?
Many years ago, Blessed John Paul 2 spoke to the seminarians of Rome on this, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. He began his homily with the phrase: “Fear not!” Echoing the archangel’s comments to our Blessed Mother he was trying to calm the natural anxiety of those young men as they prepared for their Gospel ministry in the world. The Pope counseled them that “We must all accept the call. We must listen [to the Holy Spirit], and use the grace that we have received from God. We must shore up our strength, and say, “Yes” in confidence and certainty to the … Continue reading The Solemnity of the Annunciation – The Confident Sacrifice Of A Pure Heart
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!
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