The Apostle Paul commands all Christians to stand fast, and hold to the traditions they have learned. But where is a religious artist to stand when he has learned, in one sense, nothing at all? There is not now any tradition of sacred art that is handed down with a simple and ingenuous faith. There is not now any common mind and spirit among the faithful that might move them to build together, over centuries, a great cathedral. It is difficult enough to gather two or three who agree.Share
In a medieval monastic scriptorium or lay painters’ guild, no artist needed to question what he was taught, or to defend it. In our time, tradition is not a thing that is handed down so much as a thing that must be excavated. And once an artist begins to dig, he finds, in a different sense, altogether too much.
The part of the Catholic Church’s artistic heritage that has survived the centuries, the rust and moth that consume, the ravages of iconoclasts and revolutionaries, has been studied, documented, photographed and, in the form of digital images, made accessible as never before. Art museums, rare book libraries and cathedral treasuries the world over now display their collections online. (Read more.)