Monday, November 25, 2019

How Catholic Art Saved The Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art


22.  #OneThousandBookReviews

When I typed this review up on Microsoft I put pictures of the art in it.  But when I copied and pasted it to my blog the pictures didn't come with it for some reason.  
“Art and the saints are the greatest apologetic for our faith.” Said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. 
Around the time of Martin Luther prelates published and unprecedented number of artistic treatises to help artists satisfy the requirements of the new age.  And transform painters into “tacit preachers”. 
“Amid brutal martyrdoms, doctrinal uncertainty, and vitriolic language that filled the pamphlets churned out by the printing press, art provided a way to draw people together instead of tearing them apart.”  “effectively a very expensive PR campaign meant to awaken the hearts and minds of the millions of pilgrims who were making their way to the Eternal City.”
“Art is useful in evangelization.  Artists can make stories old and new come alive.  Art can bring clarity.  Art provides different interpretations of events, but also guidance – the tradition of belief and the tradition of beauty go hand in hand.  Art is uplifting.  Artists of the post-Reformation era were encouraged to represent the best of humanity even in its worst moments.”
Elizabeth Lev, the author, wrote a chapter on architecture.  In it she speaks of the first church to be built after the reformation.  It was the first church not to have rood screens separating the faithful from the altar.  The cardinals that paid for the church to be built wanted the faithful to be close to the Blessed Sacrament.  It was their way of bringing back the faith in the Real Presence.  The architecture directed people’s attention to the altar and tabernacle.  The side chapels had beautiful art of the Incarnation and the Passion by Jacopa Bassona, Federico Zuccari and Gaspare Celio.  Also at this time receiving the Eucharist every day began to be encouraged.
When the Sistine Chapel was built – also around the time of the reformation – conveying the Real Presence of Christ in the eucharist was of utmost importance.  Sculptors made a 6 ½ foot tall tabernacle held up by angels.  This was to illustrate the doctrine of transubstantiation so hotly debated.   
This is the image painted by Andrea del Sarto.  Notice that Jesus is on a stone slab which symbolizes the altar and sacrifice of the mass.  And Jesus is on the altar as the sacrifice.  Also at the bottom of the picture is the chalice with a host that symbolizes the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  This image is called, Lamentation over the dead Christ. 
St. Charles Borromeo said, “Those who receive communion more often confess more often” and as a result “have fewer and smaller sins.”  There was huge emphasis post-reformation on these 2 sacraments.  The Council of Trent addressed the issues Martin Luther argued against these sacraments. 
St. Peter became a model for artists in regard to the sacrament of penance because he denied Christ 3 times and yet repented and became the Pope.  El Greco, Ribera, Van Dyck, Guercino, Guido Reni were among the painters who portrayed him.  This was specifically aimed at getting clerics to repent.  As Peter was a cleric.  It’s something we could use nowadays with the scandals of clergy in the church as well.
This is the image of St. Peter Penitent as depicted by Guido Reni.
St. Charles Borromeo is the first to have confessionals put into churches.  This is the confessional he had made by Giovanni Taurini.  This style of confessional was adopted by the church all over Europe.
This next image is the painting of the first confession by Titian, Christ forgiving the good thief who confessed, repented, atoned, and was forgiven on the cross next to Christ.  This image is entitled, Christ and the Good Thief. 
Titian had a promiscuous life with promiscuous paintings.  But he went to the council of Trent and was converted.  This he painted after that council. 
St. Margaret of Cortona is another beautiful example of penance.  She ran off with a noble man at the age of 17 and bore him a child out of wedlock.  Shortly afterwards she found his dead body along the road.  Dying in mortal sin terrified her and her contrition was immediate.  She joined the 3rd order of Franciscans.  Jesus told her in one of her ecstacies that, “I have put you as a burning light to enlighten those who sit in the darkness, so that they might see, through your example, how my mercy awaits the sinner who is willing to repent.”  This next image is St. Margaret of Cortona by Guercino.
Artemisia Gentileschi painted The Penitent Mary Magdalene.  Artemisia loved to paint Mary Magdalene because she’d been raped when she was 17 and allowed the relationship to continue.  And then there was a huge rape trial that transported her to celebrity status and greatly embarrassed her.  Here is the image of The Penitent Mary Magdalene painted in 1617. 
Pope Sixtus the V to emphasize the importance of baptism made a huge fountain near the entry of the Eternal City.  He had sculptors  make a statue on it of Moses striking the rock.  And also Moses holding the tablets of the 10 commandments which emphasized the importance of following the laws of the Council of Trent on baptism. 
St. Francis Xavier was renowned at the time as someone who’d baptized 100,000 people.  Artists painted him all the time.  This painting was done in 1680.  It is entitled, St. Francis Xavier Baptizing Proselytes.  It is by Luca Giordano.  In it he is seen baptizing Queen Neachile of India.  She was once an implacable enemy of Christianity.
At the time of the reformation there were many bad and unchaste clergy.  The people had no respect for them.  So to get the respect back artists painted great saints of the clergy.  Such as St. Hyacinth, apostle of Poland.  As well as St. William who was a soldier and stopped the muslims from taking over southern France.  Afterwards, St. William became a Benedictine.  Another painting was St. Charles Borromeo blessing a leper, by Carlo Saraceni.  St. Charles Borromeo was known as someone committed to priestly reform.  So much so that he was almost assassinated “by his own rebellious Milanese clergy”.  This next image is St. Charles Borromeo blessing a leper.
This is the interior of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.  In it is painted the first 16 canonized Popes to be buried in the Basilica, the 12 Apostles, Jesus, Mary, St. John the Baptist, and angels.  In the center is God the Father.  This dome was completed in the early 1600’s by Cavaliere D’Arpino.
Domenico Fetti painted, Guardian Angel Protecting a Child from the Empire of the Demon in 1618.  The reformation didn’t believe in the intercession of the angels.  And so many chapels had frescoes of the biblical intercessions of angels painted on them.  As well as many paintings of angels.  The following is Domenico Fetti’s painting.
After the Council of Trent in 1573 the Feast of the Rosary was established.  Many artists began to depict Mary representing the power of her intercession that protestants thought was worshipping her.  And therefore wouldn’t pray to her.  The following picture is by Reni and is entitled, The Madonna of the Rosary.
Because of Protestantism denying so much in regard to Mary, “Marian doctrine became one of the most exciting ateliers for artists.” And they became as Gabriele Paleotti once exhorted, “tacit preachers to the people.”  Lucovico was the first to illustrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception in 1590 in his painting, Madonna dei Scalzi.  The following is the painting.
At her side is St. Francis, “founder of the order that tirelessly promoted the Immaculate Conception, and St. Jerome, who succinctly affirmed, ‘Death by Eve, life by Mary’ back in the 4th century.”
This image of the Immaculate Conception is by a student of Ludovico, Guido Reni.  He painted it for King Phillip IV of Spain in 1626. 
Murillo also painted one of the most famous images of the Immaculate Conception but I’m having trouble pasting it on here.  He painted it in 1678. 
Here is the Assumption of the Virgin, by Annibale Carracci
When Michelangelo was 68 the Pope had him paint his Pauline Chapel where he said his personal masses.  The pope requested that he paint St. Peter’s crucifixion and The Conversion of Saul.  “This served as a reprimand to protestant sympathizers, a summons to turn from the wrong road and return to the light and to the Church that Jesus had founded.”
This is The Conversion on the Way to Damascus, by Caravaggio.  It’s actually one of my favorite paintings.  I’m going to put this painting in my house someday if I ever build one.  “Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?...’Who are you Lord?’  I am Christ  whom thou persecuteth.”  Love it.  Love it.  Love it. 
St. Teresa of Avila in ecstasy once described it thus:  An angel holding an arrow was, “thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love for God.  The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.  The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.  The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it.”  The following is The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
It is situated in the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria (built to celebrate a 1618 victory over Protestant forces at the Battle of White Mountain.)
Christ once spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas from the crucifix, “You have written well of me Thomas.  What would you want me to give you?”  Thomas answered, “Nothing but You, Lord.”  Here is a painting of it by Santi di Tito.
St. Gregory said 30 Gregorian masses for a monk who died.  This monk appeared to his brother to let him know he’d been released from Purgatory.  This painting is entitled, St. Gregory Delivers the Soul of a Monk by Giovanni Battista Crespi.
Rome was made beautiful for all the pilgrims who came.  “The Church was investing in one of the greatest tools for evangelization: beauty.”  Globalization was beginning in the year of 1600.  People from all over the world were flocking to Rome, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  All these painting I’ve put in this review were painted for churches in Rome for pilgrims to see.
In 1575 St. Phillip Neri cared for no fewer than 140,000 pilgrims in a hospice he made for pilgrims.
Devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria was huge around this time.  She lived in the 3rd and 4th century.  She was a well educated aristocrat sent as an envoy to Roman emperor Maxentius to protest the persecution of the church.  He tried to seduce her and offered her the role of “second wife”.  He couldn’t do it and therefore had her interrogated by 50 philosophers.  She converted all of them and was therefore sentenced to death.  The wheel devised for her torture was destroyed by angels before it could harm her.  She was beheaded and her body carried by angels to Mount Sinai.  Here is the painting of The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine by Annibale Carracci.
I’m just going to end the review here since its so long.

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