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
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
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?
“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
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!
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
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
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
On October 1st we celebrate the memorial to Saint Thérèse of The Holy Face, also known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St Thérèse – The Little Flower. She was born Therese Martin in France in 1873 and died from tuberculosis 24 years later in 1897. When she was fifteen she entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux and took the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She lived a life of simplicity, humility, and trust in God. “Therese never went on missions, never founded a religious order, and never performed great public works. Her only book, published after … Continue reading St. Therese of Lisieux and the Christian Way of Beauty
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!
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
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
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
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
In our last post, The Artist as Contemplative – Part 1: The Proper Approach, we discussed the need to have the proper approach to prayer. One of the assumptions that I have is that if you are reading these posts you are a creative person. You may be an actual working artist, or, you may be attracted to art in one of the various forms it takes and are considering taking the first step in its exploration. Even if you are just beginning to explore a specific art form it is important for you to consider yourself an artist. This is … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative: Part 2: A Simple Step Into Prayer By St. Teresa of Avila
All artists, by their very nature, contemplate. They are natural born contemplatives. In its dictionary definitions we see that the word contemplate means: 1) “to intently look at something, 2) to study carefully, and 3) to have in mind the possibility or a plan of action.” A person whose artistic skills are expressed through photography or the enhancement of physical beauty through fashion or cosmetics can certainly contemplate the meaning of beauty and maintain its traditions or break out and establish new ones. The same is true of a sculptor, painter, musician, needlework artist, poet, writer or any person working … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 1: The Proper Approach