Art and Faith Podcasts for the 'Year of Faith'

14/11/2012 5:15 pm

Dr James Hanvey reflects on a masterpiece at the National Gallery in London

In an address to artists at the conclusion of Vatican II on 8 December 1965, Pope Paul VI said: "The Church of the Council declares through our lips: if you are friends of true art, you are our friends!"

More than four decades later, in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a gathering of artists saying that authentic beauty "unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond."

In 2011, when speaking to a group of pilgrims visiting his summer residence, he shared his feelings after a performance of the works of J.S. Bach, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, in Munich:

"After the last piece of music, one of the Cantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed to me truth, something of the truth of the great composer¹s faith and this pressed me to praise and thank the Lord."

The Catholic Church has for centuries supported artists and encouraged use of art - be that paintings, sculptures, statues, buildings or monuments, pieces of music, or any other form of artistic expression - as a tool of evangelisation. In the Middle Ages the Church was patron of many artists who shared their talents with those who visited churches and cathedrals across Europe and beyond.

'The Last Supper' by Leonardo di Vinci is probably the most reproduced religious painting of all time, followed only by Michelangelo's 'The Creation of Adam'. Today that patronage continues through the commissioning of new pieces of work such as stained glass windows, tapestries and murals. The Church has long recognised that, whilst not all art is beautiful - and it's important that it's not - the appeal to the senses is a fundamental way through which we learn about and encounter the Divine.

Art can help us to come to know more deeply the truth about God¹s loving plan for everyone.
During the 'Year of Faith', we're releasing a series of podcasts to affirm the relationship between art and religion and to support people in exploring their faith. The series, co-ordinated by the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk, will feature a variety of commentators focusing on experiences of human life.

The series will feature a variety of commentators focusing on experiences of human life. Each work of art will serve as a stimulus for reflection to help the speaker and listener explore their beliefs in relation to a life experience of some kind. To that end, the intended audience for the series is not exclusively those who are already Christian, but people who are seeking to make sense of their existence.


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In this introductory podcast, Dr James Hanvey SJ introduces the series and explains its purpose. You can listen to or download the podcast from the top right-hand corner of the page.

Duration: 2m 55s


Our special section celebrating the 'Year of Faith'



Dr James Hanvey SJ invites you to follow our 'Year of Faith' podcasts focusing on art and faith.   art-and-faith-intro.MP3 6.77 MB