40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #16 Catholic Art

Following up on yesterday’s post, it seems logical to take a look at Catholic art.  As I mentioned before, for the first fifteen hundred years (give or take a few centuries) most people couldn’t read.  In the present day, how do we convey information to our young people who can’t read yet?  We use pictures.  That’s what they did during the years of the early Church.  Instead of simple pictures for modern preschoolers, they created beautiful works of art for a grown-up audience.

Take the picture above, Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son.  The father lovingly greets his returning son while the resentful son who stayed home looks on, an amazing depiction of the famous story.  Henry Nouen”s book of the same name is based, not so much on the story, but on Rembrandt’s painting.

Not a painting, but a statue, Michelangelo’s Pieta shows a grieving Mary holding her dead Son in her arms.  Again, the work tells the story far better than words ever could.  For people who hadn’t acquired the ability to read, their only source for the great stories of the Bible was in the mass, and in the works of the great artists.

I could go on and on, showing you examples of great Catholic art but you can find examples in museums and on line.  Check out Art and the Bible for far more examples than I could include here.  Just think about the great painters and sculptors and their favorite subjects.  I think you’ll agree that without Catholic art, museums all over the world would have a lot of empty wall space.

Catholic art is spiritual, it’s beautiful, and it tells all the great stories from Scripture.  And, that’s why it’s cool.

Here’s one last example.

Raphael's Transfiguration


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