18/8/13 – Artistic Quality and Beauty

Michaelangelo's "Pieta", St Peter's Basilica, Rome
Michaelangelo’s “Pieta”, St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Recently I referred to a key statement from the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy about sacred art:

The Church has not adopted any particular style of art as her very own; she has admitted styles from every period… Thus, in the course of the centuries, she has brought into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved. The art of our own days, coming from every race and region, shall also be given free scope in the Church, provided that it adorns the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honour…

Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 123

It is important that art is part of our church buildings.  Sacred art seeks to reflect something of the beauty of the divine and raise our hearts and minds to God.  It is important, therefore, that artistic works within a church “adorn the sacred buildings and holy rites with due reverence and honour”.  This extends from the more obvious artistic works such as statues and other sacred images, through to the artistic design and appointment of church furniture, sacred vessels (eg patens and chalices) and architectural elements.

Consequently, the artistic works that adorn our church should be of the highest quality that we can provide.  The Church needs to support, encourage and commission the work of talented artists in the field of sacred art.  Artistic works within a church should engender a response within us, and within the generations of people who will engage with and appreciate quality artworks into the future.

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