“Art and Faith”
Last Thursday evening, in the Paul VI Hall, a new Polish documentary was released entitled “Art and Faith”. Pope Benedict XVI attended the showing, along with many other cardinals, bishops, priests, seminarians, religious, and lay people. The film captured the beauty of the all the treasures displayed within the Vatican museums and the broad history of art throughout Christianity found therein. The documentary devoted much of its research and commentary to the splendor of Michelango’s Sistine Chapel. In fact, October 31st will be the 500th anniversary of its completion!
(You can take a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel here.)
After the viewing, the Holy Father reflected on the beauty of art, its importance for the new evangelization, and the timeliness of the release of this documentary during the Year of Faith. He commented,
One could say that the artistic heritage of Vatican City constitutes a sort of grand ‘parable’ through which the Pope speaks to men and women from around the world…The language of art is a ‘parabolic’ language, with a special openness to the universal: the ‘Way of Beauty’ is a way capable of leading the mind and heart to the Lord, to elevate them to the heights of God.
The documentary also gave special reference to some of our more recent Holy Fathers, such as Blessed John XXIII, Servant of God Paul VI, and Blessed John Paul II, and their work and encouragement of the importance of art and its role in faith. Blessed John Paul II, especially, was acknowledged for his work and dialogue with artists. Here is a link to his Letter to Artists. Pope Benedict XVI was touched and appreciative that they gave special notice to him. Pope Benedict XVI himself also met with a group of artists in the Sistine Chapel in November 2009, which was reflected in the documentary. Here is a text of that Meeting with Artists.
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his thoughts, saying, “Art and faith: a combination that accompanies the Church and the Holy See for two thousand years; a combination that we need even more today in our commitment to announcing to the men and women of our time the Gospel of a God who is infinite Beauty and Love.”
Just as an aside, in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s Note for Pastoral Recommendation’s for the Year of Faith, art and music is given special attention as a way to promote and catechize our faith. We pray that we and all may use our artistic talents and gifts for the greater glory of God, to witness to God’s infinite love and beauty and to draw others to the truths of the Faith!