Saturday, 14 April 2012

Pope on beauty

The little daily prayer-book and missal, Magnificat, the International English edition of which I have the honour (with my family) of editing, contains a lot more than the texts of the Mass of the day, and prayers for morning, evening, and night. As a sample of the daily Meditations, here is an extract from the text by Pope Benedict that was published yesterday. It is about the "Way of Beauty" and the importance of art.
"Perhaps it has happened to you at one time or another – before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of poetry or a piece of music – to have experienced deep emotion, a sense of joy, to have perceived clearly, that is, that before you there stood not only matter – a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, an ensemble of letters or a combination of sounds – but something far greater, something that 'speaks', something capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul. A work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human person who stands in wonder before the visible reality, who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colours, and sounds. Art is capable of expressing, and of making visible, man’s need to go beyond what he sees; it reveals his thirst and his search for the infinite. Indeed, it is like a door opened to the infinite, opened to a beauty and a truth beyond the everyday. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward." 
The text has obvious echoes of Pope John Paul II's Letter to Artists, on which David Clayton's "Way of Beauty" web-site is based. David Clayton is the illustrator of several of our catechetical colouring books for children, based on traditional styles of Christian art from icons to illuminated manuscripts. In Beauty for Truth's Sake I make a case for the objectivity of beauty, in an age where many people assume it is merely in the eyes of the beholder.

Incidentally, a longer and more developed discussion of Beauty by Pope Benedict (or rather Cardinal Ratzinger) is available on our main website under "Online reading", or go directly here.


  1. This is a wonderful quote, can you point me to the source?

  2. Yes, it is from a General Audience on 31 August 2011.

  3. That is a great post. very interesting. Thanks for posting.
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