The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Articles Under: Catechizing with Art

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Many moons ago, when I was a young social work student in North Dakota, I was required to take a course called “Indian Studies.” One of the books for the course was titled Black Elk Speaks . It was the moving account of the experience of the life of indigenous peoples prior to the arrival of the white European settlers, as seen through the eyes of a Lakota elder named Nicholas Black Elk. John Neihardt, the man who penned the book in the early 1930s, had a sense of the urgent need to preserve a record of what native life... Read more
To view a full resolution of this artwork on a smartboard, click here . The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a beautiful dogma of the Church that conveys to the faithful the importance of the Blessed Mother. In 1950, the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus (The Most Bountiful God) was promulgated by Pope Pius XII. It declared that Mary was assumed into heaven—body and soul—at the end of her earthly life. Many traditions gathered from ancient sources tell us of Mary’s life after the scriptural conclusion of the apostolic age. The whole Church, in both in history and in... Read more
“The option or love of preference for the poor . . . is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods ” — St. John Paul II [1] Saints Love the Poor The saints of... Read more
To view a digital version of the artwork click here . The Ghent Altarpiece, also known by the title The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , is one of the most famous images in art history. The additional title is important as a signal to the viewer to pay close attention to where the image leads us through an evocation of the narrative of salvation. Jan van Eyck was born in the fourteenth century in present-day Belgium and settled in the city of Bruges, where he accomplished his major works during the Northern Renaissance. He and his artist brother Hubert... Read more
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To view the art on a smart board click here. “What are those five naked boys doing in my Holy Family?” [1] Thus exclaims Agnolo Doni in Irving Stone’s novel The Agony and the Ecstasy upon seeing the tondo (round painting) he had commissioned from Michelangelo. Whether or not the real Agnolo Doni found the picture surprising in 1509, viewers today may well find the inclusion of such background figures strange. The presence of five nude youths is not the only puzzling thing about the Doni Tondo . The arrangement of the principal figures is most unusual. Although the Virgin... Read more
Several years ago, I stepped into another sister’s classroom to drop something off and found her seated on a low chair near the sacred space, her students on the carpet at her feet. She had an image of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation prominently displayed, but they were talking about the bells at Mass. “The bells are like the doorbell,” she was saying. “When the doorbell rings you know someone is there to see you. When the bells ring at Mass, they tell us that God is here.” I was intrigued, and, since I had a few minutes, I sat down to... Read more
To view this work of art on a smartboad click here. In 1583, nearing the end of a brilliant career as a painter, sixty-five-year-old Jacopo Robusti began work on The Annunciation , a scene of Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Having grown up in his father’s dye business, Jacopo Robusti was better known as Tintoretto, the “little dyer,” from having drawn on the walls of the shop with pigments from his father’s dye pots. After absorbing the drawing style of Michelangelo and the color sense of Titian, he established... Read more
To view the artwork online click here. When you ascend the hill that leads up onto Franciscan University of Steubenville’s campus and look across the Rosary Circle, a glittering mosaic will likely catch your eye. At first, you may only be able to make out a vague form inside a golden almond shape. As you get closer, you’ll see Our Lady, crowned as Queen of the Angels, standing within a mandorla formed by fiery seraphim. Her rose-colored mantle drapes around a representation of her holy womb. Inside, surrounded by concentric circles dotted with stars, Jesus holds a miniature Portiuncula and... Read more