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Pope speaks on art, the 'path of beauty' leading to God

August 31, 2011

At his weekly public audience on August 31, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the “path of beauty” as an approach to God, and the role of art strengthening faith.

The Pope asked the 5,000 people who had gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo whether they had ever felt deeply moved by a work of art, and realized that “there was not only mere matter--a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds--but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; of elevating the soul.”

Art, the Pontiff said, “is an open door to the infinite.” And in many cases, works of art “are born of faith and express faith.” He cited as examples the architecture of Gothic cathedrals and Romanesque churches, and the music of Bach as “true paths to God, the supreme Beauty.” Sacred music, he added, “vibrates the strings of our heart” and helps turn soul toward God.

Art can also enrich the understanding of the faith, especially when the subject itself is religious. Pope Benedict recalled the words of the artist Marc Chagall, who commented that “for centuries painters have dipped their brush in that colored alphabet that is the Bible.”


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