Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Great medieval cathedrals are 'Bibles of stone,' Pope says

November 18, 2009

At his regular weekly audience on November 18, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the immense flowering of Christian art in the medieval period, and especially "the most exalted artistic creations of all civilization: the cathedrals."

Speaking to about 8,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Holy Father said that the growth of monasticism helped to touch off a period of great Christian architecture, culminating in the construction of Europe's great Gothic cathedrals in the 12th and 13th centuries. These buildings, he said, "reveal a synthesis of faith and art, harmoniously expressed through the universal and captivating language of beauty."

The sculptures that were done for these cathedrals, the Pope continued, represented a new sort of art insofar as they were intended to provide religious instruction and inspiration. They were "Bibles in stone," he said.

Pope Benedict observed that "the artistic masterpieces created in Europe over previous centuries are incomprehensible is we do not take account of the religious spirit that inspired them." He voiced the hope that Christians in the 21st century might "rediscover this way of beauty as one of the paths-- perhaps the most attractive and captivating-- to encounter and to love God."


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  • Posted by: Brennan - Nov. 18, 2009 11:36 PM ET USA

    I agree with what the Pope says. Yet the building of those great Cathedrals were in harmony not only with the Faith itself, but with the liturgy which expressed the Faith. How can we expect to be building churches of great beauty when we have adopted a liturgy which was purposely made to be simple (or in other words, banal). Liturgy and church art are inextricably linked.