Category Archives: Art & Christianity

Knights of Columbus Museum presents Orthodox Christianity in Early Russia: the Formation of a Tradition

Holy Theotokos and childFor the better part of the past year the Knights of Columbus museum has had an exhibit on Russian icons, “Windows into Heaven.”

There is a forthcoming lecture to open up the windows into heaven even more, “Orthodox Christianity in Early Russia: the Formation of a Tradition”  The lecture is presented by Paul Bushkovitch Ph.D.

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, @ 2 p.m.
Free admission and parking

Knights of Columbus Museum
1 State Street, New Haven CT 06511 | 203-865-0400

Orthodox Christianity has been Russia’s pre-eminent religion for more than a millennium and is integral to the nation’s history and culture. Yale University history professor Dr. Paul Bushkovitch will discuss the origin and foundation of Russian Orthodoxy, which has endured attacks and repression throughout the past, most notably during the preceding century. Dr. Bushkovitch earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and has studied in Russia. He has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1975 and has published and lectured extensively on Russian history.

The Knights of Columbus Museum’s exhibition of Russian icons, Windows into Heaven, runs through April 27, 2014. The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

700th anniversary of the Divine Comedy, Dante’s masterpiece

commedia medalTruly one of the world’s great texts is the Divine Comedy by Dante. Next year and in subsequent years, we’ll hear about the honoring of Dante by bestowing annual award for artistic genius dealing with

The Best Digitally-Produced Rendition of Any Aspect of Dante’s Divine Comedy

The first recipient of the Commedia Medal will be announced on 1 December 2014 and it will be award annually until 2021.

The image of the award is posted here. It’s the creation of Dom Gregory Havill, a Benedictine monk of Portsmouth Abbey and a teacher in the Portsmouth Abbey School.

Dante published the Inferno in 1314, the Purgatorio in 1315 and the Paradiso in 1321. Dante died in 1321. What a terrific way to acknowledge cultural icon by having a Benedictine monk create an artistic piece for an award of excellence and beauty! Benedictines have always had their fingers (and their hearts and minds) in matters of faith, reason,and art to communicate the Divine Mystery.

Interested in the competition, visit the website here. Dr Sebastian Mahfood is organizing the competition.

Windows into Heaven –Knights of Columbus Museum exhibits Russian icons

I am always looking for the way heaven touches earth. Perhaps you are, too. The image that comes to mind is the finger of God touching that of Adam in a painting done by Michelangelo. I also recall that the Incarnation is a manifestation of the beauty of heaven touching the ordinariness of earth and making our existence forever beautiful. These are some thoughts on an experience of “Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons and Treasures” at the Knights of Columbus Museum (New Haven, CT). Though the icons aren’t in their original liturgical context, they nonetheless open the heart and mind onto something and someone beautiful. The icons, for me, are more than nice pieces of Christian art; they truly are positions of grace that allow my desires to be opened anew by an experience with the Divine Majesty. There is an emphasis here on the personal relationship we have with the Trinity. To say otherwise is to neglect a piece of your humanity because the beauty of the icon does invite us to a different way of living the faith.

kofc icon collage.jpg

I was just reading an address of Cardinal Ratzinger on beauty. An amazing act of the Spirit to allow me to see the icons and then reflect with Ratzinger on the experience. He had addressed the annual meeting organized by members of Communion and Liberation in August 2002. A paragraph sticks out:

To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth. I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

“The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty”

Rimini Meeting 2002

Take the time this summer to visit the KofC Museum and be inspired! Allow yourself to be wounded by beauty, as Ratzinger said.

Pope Francis’ coat of arms

Francis coat of arms.jpg

Pope Francis has decided to stick –more or less, with the heraldic art, that is, his coat of arms that he had when he was called to the Order of Bishop and then as a cardinal. The most identifiable change made is the replacing of the red cardinal’s galero and tassels with the papal keys and miter that Pope Benedict XVI chose for his arms in 2005 when he accepted the pontifical dignity but gone is the pallium. The other change is turning the star representing Mary, the Mother of God and the flower of nard representing Saint Joseph, to gold as opposed to silver. Add to the artscape is the image most associated to the Society of Jesus with the IHS sunburst. The Holy Family, hence, is illustrated here.
The keys of Saint Peter refer to the gospel passage of Saint Matthew 16:16 where Jesus says to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom.” The keys represent the pastoral authority of Jesus given to Peter and thus to Peter’s successor to forgive sins, and lead us to salvation. The silver key concerns things of earth, and the gold key things of heaven joined together by the red cord symbolizing the common witness of the blood of the Savior shed for humanity. You may want to read the Catechism on the Petrine ministry at paragraphs 880-882, the whole section “I believe in the holy Catholic Church is worth” some study and prayer.
By having mercy and making decisions” by following Christ
~the way Pope Francis intends to exercise the Petrine ministry he’s been called to~

“For Greater Glory” now available on DVD

For Greater Gloory movie cover.jpg

The movie, “For Greater Glory,” is now available on DVD on Amazon, but it is also available from Ignatius Press.

What price would
you pay for freedom? In the exhilarating action epic “For Greater Glory” an
impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for
family, faith and the very future of their country, as the film’s adventure
unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War the
daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.

This movie is an excellent addition for your Catholic library of film and appropriate for a high school Catholic curricula, the RCIA and adult faith formation work of your parish. This forgotten part of our North American history needs to be better known.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory