Category Archives: Culture

Reviving Christianity’s Artistic Tradition

Vatican Proposing Presence at Venice Biennial

By Paolo Centofanti

ROME, SEPT. 1, 2008 ( Art just might be the key to reintroducing the great
Gianfranco Ravasi2.jpgfigures and images of Christianity to modern culture, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.”

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said this in an interview with ZENIT this week regarding his proposal to promote the presence of sacred art at the 2009 Venice Biennial.

He said his idea is to launch a “presence — not direct, but parallel” — at the contemporary art exhibition that takes place every other year in Venice, Italy.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in July, he revealed that the Vatican is weighing various proposals concerning the placement of its pavilion, such as at the University of Venice or in a series of Churches. He also spoke of plans for an art prize at the exhibit.

“This presence of the Holy See,” the archbishop told ZENIT, “which I would like to realize, has precisely the objective to foster a new art that also takes into account the great religious motifs, including but not only the Marian motif.” 


Archbishop Ravasi lamented that great architects are building modern Churches around the world, but the structures “are either naked [inside], as they have only the architecture of light, or images in poor taste, or only the presence of handicrafts and not, as in the past, great works of art.”


“Suffice it to think of the great churches of the 16th century,” he said, “of Baroque art, which had in themselves the wonder of architecture, but also the presence of artists such as Bernini, for example, or Titian, or Veronese. Let us think of the great Venetian churches, what lofty presences they have from the point of view of art history.”


Gianfranco Ravasi arms.jpgThe archbishop said he would like, through his proposal, to encourage “great contemporary artists […] to represent the great religious images, and also to reawaken in […] ecclesial authorities the need to propose again great works within their churches.”

“Perhaps art,” he added, “might be the way to reintroduce the figure of Mary, but also the figures of the great images and great personalities — beginning with Christ, of course — of the Christian tradition.”

Meeting of the Friendship of Peoples: CL & Rimini

fascia_1.jpgCommunion and Liberation,
Meeting of the Friendship of Peoples

The attention of many this summer will be the Olympic games, or the political party Conventions in the United States. There are two events of the summer that will not receive as much publicity in the media in the United States: World Youth Day, held in July in Sydney, Australia, AND the Communion and Liberation Meeting of the Friendship of Peoples in Rimini, Italy, a large cultural gathering in Rimini, Italy, held this week that will require 2,400 volunteers to help with the 700,000 participants who will show up.

This year’s meeting, happening right now so get to Italy fast, is built around the theme of “Either Protagonists or nobodies,” seeking to reflect on the concept of the person.

In the past leaders of science, the arts, politics, economics, and the Church have gathered, including Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, Kiko Arguello; Nobel winning scientists, leaders in economics, heads of state, and last year United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Pope John Paul II described the Meeting of Rimini as “explicit and conscious echo of the great mystery that the whole Church is reliving during the Jubilee year: the incarnation of the Son of God.”

A defender of human reason, Father Luigi Giussani had a deep knowledge of literature and of music, and accorded great value to art as a road that leads to the Mystery. Followed by those belonging to the Movement he founded, now spread in many countries of the world, listened to with respect by many people a various faiths and various professional responsibilities, I like to remember him as a master of humanity and defender of the religiosity inscribed in the heart of the human being (Pope John Paul II).

The Modern Jeremiah Laid to Rest

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk, a Caucasus town known for its
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.jpgspas.
Mr. Solzhenitsyn was born on December 11, 1918 and died, Sunday, August 3, 2008. The cause of death was a heart condition.


Mr. Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia on May 27, 1994, after settling in the hamlet of Cavendish, Vermont, for 18 years. He never became an American citizen while the rest of the family did.


His return to Russia was a dramatic event; beginning in Vladivostok where “he and his family began a two-month journey by private railroad car across Russia, to see what his post-Communist country now looked like. The BBC was on hand to film the entire passage and pay for it.”

In 1970, Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel prize laureate. Among his memorable literary works were:  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963), The Cancer Ward (1968), A Lenten Letter to Pimen, Patriarch of All Russia (1972), The Nobel Lecture on Literature (1972), Candle in the Wind (1973), The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: an Experiment in Literary Investigation  (1974).


Mr. Solzhenitsyn was to be buried at the Donskoi monastery in Moscow today after a Russian Orthodox funeral service with no state funeral ceremony. The L’Osservatore Romano paid tribute to this great conscience. Also, Andrew Cusack has written a marvelous piece on Mr. Solzhenityn; take the time and read it. May his memory be eternal!

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]
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