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Catholic Activity: Celebrating for the Feast of St. John Damascene


  • Copies of various religious art
  • appetizers, such as wine and cheese
  • classical music to play in background
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December 4 is the feast of St. John Damascene, also known as John of Damascus or the Doctor of Christian Art. Here are some suggestions for celebrating this feast.


Iconoclasm (Eikonoklasmos, "Image-breaking") is the name of the heresy that disturbed the peace of the Eastern Church in the eighth and ninth centuries. This heresy rejected as superstition the use of religious images and advocated their destruction. It was occasioned by the rise of Islam, which considers all sacred images idolatrous. This idea was declared heretical by the Second Council of Nicea in 787.

In modern times we think nothing of seeing or obtaining religious art for our church and home. We just need a local religious store, a catalog or an internet site and we can own any pictures or statues we like. During the time of this heresy, icons and other religious art was ripped from homes and churches and smashed and burned. Many great works of art were destroyed due to extreme religious fervor.

St. John Damascene was a great preserver of Christian art, and is also called the "Doctor of Christian Art." We should appreciate his contribution to our Church's heritage. Today would be a great day to begin the study of religious art, especially by some of the greatest artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, and El Greco, to name a few. Another area to study would be religious icons. Icons, although one dimensional and quite different from realistic art, carry deep symbolic meanings in every detail.

Why not throw an art appreciation party? Try to get copies of some religious paintings to display throughout the room, with short explanations and meditations on the artist and work (Sister Wendy Beckett has several books and videos that give great insight into understanding the paintings). Serve wine and cheese and other "sophisticated" hors d'oeuvre. This can be a party for all ages, depending on the refreshments! Jennifer Gregory Miller Jennifer G. Miller

Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2014 by Jennifer Gregory Miller

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