New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catholic Art

Today we will start a new chapter in this blog. We will look, contemplate and learn from great Catholic art.
In the middle ages, Catholics learnt about Christ and the bible from the sermons of the saints, the stained glass on the cathedrals and the paintings by painters like Giotto di Bondone, Fra Angelico etc etc.
We wont just be admiring paintings, we will look at the details and let those details touch our souls and lift us up to Christ who is the artist extraordinaire.
Two Paintings, Two Mentalities, Two Doctrines

(The Virgin and Child by the Maitre de Moulins)
(The Virgin and Child by Rouault)

Indulge in an exercise of fantasy, and suppose that by rewinding the thread of bygone centuries it has become possible for you to return to the time of Christ and walk into a room of the Holy Family's humble dwelling in Nazereth.
Imagine that you find the Virgin playing with the Child, and that both were just as Rouault depicted them in the painting on the upper right. Would such a sight fulfill your expectations? Would it correspond to what you might have hoped from the Mother of God and the Word Incarnate Himself? Would you find in those images the authentic expression of the Christian spirit and the ineffable virtues of Jesus and Mary?

Obviously not.
Therefore, whoever earnestly wants that Christian art worthily and duly reflect the spirit of the Gospel cannot be indifferent to paintings of this nature becoming widespread among the faithful. What kind of impression would people have of the Holy Family if nothing else were shown to them but paintings of this ilk? As far as it is able, Christian art has the role of an accessory to the spreading of sound doctrine. The spirit of this painting cannot be deemed proper for that end.
In order to illustrate these affirmations better, look at the painting by the Maitre de Moulins (fifteenth century), which also portrays the Virgin and Child, and consider how efficacious it is in helping us understand, through the senses, what the Church teaches about Jesus and Mary.
(Clik on both images for a larger view)

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