"This publication will captivate those who love art, the Faith, and an excellent writing."- Father roger J. Landry, Catholic Voices USA


*
*

*

*

Caravaggio might seem the most unlikely choice to spearhead a public-relations campaign for the Catholic Church. This aggressive, unconventional artist rarely adhered to rules—whether legal or artistic—and was an ext frequently under arrest than in Eucharistic adoration. Yet this brilliant painter joined several various other "misfit" artists—hypochondriac Barocci, alcohol addict Annibale Carracci, gritty Ribera, and also scandal-ridden Artemisia Gentileschi—to become the visual-arts SWAT team that the Catholic Church in an age of crisis, the post-Reformation era.

You are watching: How catholic art saved the faith

A dark and divisive cloud brushed up through Europe in the wake of October 31, 1517, once Martin Luther"s Ninety-Five Theses challenged nearly every facet of the Faith. Man reigned supreme about everything indigenous the sacraments, which accompanied human beings from birth to death, come the saints, who set daily examples in the liturgical calendar. To be Jesus existing in the Eucharist? might the procession of historical Christian heroes in Heaven help the living? to be Mary"s role in the story of salvation specifically that of the "God bearer," through no lasting affect over the Church?

As these inquiries of faith took a geopolitical turn toward problems of power, the debate grew significantly ugly. Harsh language disseminated with the printing press was supplemented through vicious images, such as Lucas Cranach"s Passionary that Christ and also The Antichrist series from 1521, whereby thirteen woodcuts reflecting scenes indigenous the life of Christ were contrasted through those of the Antichrist, stood for as the roman inn pontiff. Violence escalated, dialogue damaged down, and brother turned against brother together the wars of faith began. What can calm this storm tossed waters?

The arts.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI repetitive both as cardinal and also as roman inn pontiff the "art and also the saints are the biggest apologetic because that our faith." The Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation relied ~ above this premise as it unleashed a wave of glorious examples of holiness and also beautiful sacred art in opposition come the ugliness, confusion, betrayal, and also loss rampant in the era. Artists, regardless of their an individual obstacles towards sanctification, to be recruited come teach, delight, and also inspire through their gifts, and also complement the hallowed lives of Charles Borromeo, Ignatius the Loyola, Philip Neri, thomas More, Teresa that Avila, and also Jane Frances de Chantal, who shone as examples of spiritual beauty.

Initially perhaps, self-interest may have encouraged artists. The menace of iconoclasm, a side impact of the good news Reformation, experienced paintings, statues, and relics destroyed in numerous pockets of north Europe, and was getting ground in the south. Painters and sculptors were in part to blame for the hostility towards images. Enamored that their own prowess, some artists had actually lost sight of the holy stories in favor of provocation, frequently of a lascivious nature, or rather a vain virtuosity, arraying a dizzying number of figures but masking the sacred message. This period, called ineffectually through art chroniclers as Mannerism, gave the world the concept of "art because that art"s sake" that would take on a life that its own in the eighteenth century. Because that the post-Reformation era, however, the watchword was something rather entirely: "art for faith"s sake."

For the post-Reformation era, however, the watchword was something else entirely: "art for faith"s sake."

It is no surprising that, faced with promiscuous or confound images, some Catholic prelates questioned the wisdom of continued art patronage if the Church was preparing to reexamine her teachings in the board of directors of Trent. Music, literature, and also the visual arts were under scrutiny regarding whether the satisfied they listed was just profane delight instead of a stimulus towards piety and eternal salvation.

There was much to discuss in the board of directors of Trent, native sacraments to saints and also Magisterium to mission. The two years of intermittent meetings native 1545 to 1563 spanned five popes, the bear of ten spiritual orders, much more than one hundreds officially well-known martyrs, and also the repercussions of the astounding volte-face of King Henry VIII, who decreed himself the head the the English church in 1534. The Tridentine fathers, truth be told, spent much less time mentioning art 보다 art historians would like, yet their decrees, that the twenty-fifth and final conference of December 4, 1563, reaffirmed the long-standing relationship in between art and faith, essentially restating the points made at the second Council that Nicaea in 787.

The Tridentine decrees to be deliberated together with the duty of relics, a precursor to Benedict XVI"s monitorings on the power of the saintly and artistic beauty.

The bishops shall closely teach this: that, by method of the histories of the mysteries of ours Redemption, portrayed by paintings or other representations, the human being is instructed, and confirmed in remembering, and continually meditating upon the write-ups of faith; as additionally that an excellent profit is derived from all spiritual images, no only due to the fact that the human being are in order to admonished of the benefits and also gifts bestowed upon castle by Christ, but also because the miracles i beg your pardon God has performed by way of the saints, and their salutary examples, are collection before the eyes of the faithful; so the they may provide God many thanks for those things, may order their own lives and also manners in imitation of the saints, and also may it is in excited to adore and also love God, and to maintain piety.

By 1564, arts patronage to be secured, however the instructions were vague. Just how were artist to comply through these lofty and somewhat ambiguous expectations? The systems came in the type of a remarkable and unprecedented collaboration, that of prelates and also painters. In the search to call old story for a new world and emphasize old truths for a contemporary generation, the Church sought the end all types of artists: the edgy Caravaggio, the graceful Guido Reni, the technically perfect Annibale Carracci, the vivid Barocci, the theatrical Bernini, and the passionate Artemisia Gentileschi. Every creative soul, regardless of its interior struggles, was invited to it is in a component of this good project that affirming salvation in the Catholic Church with beauty.

While artist knew exactly how to wield the brush and chisel, interpreting sacred stories because that the faithful to be the province of preachers. The Church, in spite of the setbacks the the Mannerist era, made decision to encourage this individual creative visions, shaping them through formation. Prelates released an unprecedented variety of artistic treatises in this era. Created in Italian, castle aimed to assist artists fulfill the needs of the brand-new age, and, in the words of Gabriele Paleotti, archbishop the Bologna, change painters into "tacit preachers" through the "office to delight, teach, and also move." artist were offered the condition they had actually craved from the time of Leonardo da Vinci, yet with that power came an excellent responsibility in the care of those souls entrusted to their talents.

*

Amid the brutal martyrdoms, doctrine uncertainty, and also vitriolic language the filled the pamphlets churned out by the to press press, art listed a means to draw people together instead of tearing lock apart. This was an er of extraordinary art patronage native the height down, successfully a very expensive PR campaign meant come awaken the hearts and minds the the millions of pilgrims that were making their method to the Eternal City. This mission ongoing into the following century, reaching its zenith throughout the era now called the Baroque. That lasted until the mid-eighteenth century, however eventually dwindled throughout the Enlightenment, when civilization turned far from spiritual art come the crumbled vestiges of the pagan past looking for truth and beauty.

Which brings united state to now. Centuries have actually passed since Church patronage developed the likes that a Caravaggio or a Bernini, and very few people the supervisory board church décor in fresco or oil repaint these days. Why, in this era, need to we it is in interested in the drawings and also disputes that a bygone age?

The factor is that the challenges and circumstances the the Church challenged five hundred years earlier bear a to mark similarity to the ones the faithful challenge today, if the truths that the Church that artists for this reason deftly displayed half a millennium ago have remained the same. Also today, art have the right to assist the Church with number of of her needs:

Art is beneficial in evangelization, the mission of the Church and also her faithful to informing the an excellent story of our salvation. Simply as Jesus said stories, believer recount their personal witness. Artists can make stories, old and new, come lively in paint, marble, or, in this age, film. Art can lug clarity. In a human being of ambiguity and confusion, art enables for the serene discussion of different interpretations of events yet can also administer guidance—the tradition of belief and also the tradition of beauty go hand in hand, eventually meeting in transcendentals: truth, beauty, and goodness.Art is uplifting. The language of arts affirmed Church teaching but likewise delighted the faithful and enjoyed a universality, thanks to the attraction the the beautiful. Artist of the post-Reformation era were encouraged to stand for the best of humanity even in the worst moments.

Certainly, the created word, the sacraments, and the power of preaching kind the main point of the Church"s mission, yet art plays a really important role with people, who often tend to privilege the gift of sight. As in the post-Reformation era, civilization today room accustomed come understanding and also believing v the gift of vision. So, in a human being where human being prefer see the movie to analysis the book, an imaginative movement begun nearly five hundreds years back can still aid the Church in her mission today.

This book presents the significant challenges the Church challenged during the period of the Protestant reformation that were properly answered with art and also architecture. While part works date from the very first response come Luther in the 1520s and a few others from late 1600s, many of the art disputed is the product the the immediate generations following the council of Trent, indigenous 1570 to 1650. Three sections are devoted to considering the concerns of sacraments, intercession, and also the function of human teamwork in salvation, together explored in art. Every section, in turn, includes seven chapters that look at particular issues and situations, and then existing works the art produced to deal with those issues. The last chapter is devoted to Michelangelo"s Last Judgment, the ultimate Catholic an answer to the protestant Reformation, summing up the most necessary doctrines that salvation and also projecting them toward a glorious destiny to plan by God because that every life soul.

The art of this tumultuous duration represented a concerted effort to reinforce old teaching with brand-new pictures, confronting modern-day crises with images of eternal truths.

The art of this tumultuous duration represented a concerted effort to reinforce old teaching with brand-new pictures, confronting modern-day crises with pictures of eternal truths. The advancements of this period in art were less a reaction to the prodding of the Protestant improvement and more a dynamic rebirth of an engagement through the arts that had actually been walking on because the third century. Because that this reason, instead of making use of the term Counter-Reformation, arguing that the duration was merely a reaction come the tumult of young name Luther, man Calvin, and also companions, this publication will employ the term Catholic Restoration to emphasize that, ~ the shock of the beforehand events, the Church proactively stood for her old teaching with the powerful language that art.

Fundamentally, the beauty in these pages is the fruit that conflict, whereby the herbal collides through the supernatural, the universal call to sainthood encounters humanity"s please nature, the an individual relationship v God confronts the mission the the global Church, and man"s desire for security is threatened by the modern options the ever-expanding knowledge brings. The Church proposed that the many fruitful location for this debate, i beg your pardon ignites creativity like flint and tinder, was on canvas, not in the streets.

The works disputed in this publication were mostly selected indigenous the Italian peninsula. Return Spain and also some that the Netherlands also produced magnificent arts to reinforce Catholic tenets—particularly Marian teaching and Eucharistic theology—the closest collaboration between artists and theologians took ar in the city-states the Italy: Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, and Rome. Here, the post-Reformation era produced a "terroir" where specific nutrients—popular piety, creative excellence, publicly processions—created a fertile soil where countless "varietals" might flourish, producing countless different yet fantastic "vintages."

Many of these works have discovered their method to museums all over the world, but some remain above the altars and in the chapels because that which they to be commissioned, so the reader could view this publication as an invitation to a trip to see these works v the very same eyes together the faithful who walked indigenous city come city top top their way to Rome because that the an excellent Jubilee Years.

See more: How Did Keeping Up With The Kardashians Start, Keeping Up With The Kardashians

It is my sincere hope that in analysis this book, you will certainly revel in meeting brand-new artists and seeing brand-new works of art, gain learning much more about the painters you currently knew, and take proud in the unique and extraordinary donation to culture that the Catholic Church offered to art. Arts of the Catholic restoration was intended to delight and also to teach (delectere et docere). The is my biggest hope the you will find both knowledge and also pleasure in these pages.