For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to sacred art. I used to buy books as a kid about the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo. Ironically, I had no idea of their Catholic ties, nor would the term “sacred art” have been in my vocabulary. I was simply mesmerized by the beauty. It wasn’t until I converted to Catholicism as an adult that I began to see the connection between art and faith. In fact, back in the day, sacred art was a common tool used for educating and evangelizing those unable to read. So much of Scripture can be explained through sacred art. But, how often do we actually stop to meditate on it? I know I’m guilty of breezing through basilicas and cathedrals, seeing the stained glass, mosaics, and oil paintings but not REALLY stopping to examine, meditate or reflect on what they are conveying. At surface level, so many paintings seem obvious, until we stop and really take in each square inch of the painting—the colors, symbols, juxtaposition of light & darkness, facial expressions and more. Now, imagine, bringing all these observations to prayer! What a beautiful way to elevate our prayer time by incorporating sacred art into our conversation with God: allowing the colors of the artwork to draw you into the scene before you; placing yourself in that scene with Christ; and focusing your attention on specific details.
I personally can become very distracted during prayer time. As a visual learner, focusing on a piece of sacred art can help me to better concentrate and control my thoughts on the scene before me. I have found this to be particularly useful when praying the Rosary as it can be so hard for me to focus on the mysteries without my mind wandering. That became a huge catalyst for me when designing A Painted Rosary and A Stained Glass Rosary books. I desired a simple resource that could help me reflect on each mystery without getting caught up in heavy text. I wanted just one piece of sacred art per mystery, with a string of printed beads to keep my place as I moved my thumb down the page. For me, this has greatly helped in keeping my focus and deepening my meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary.
Whether you use a book, online images or take a trip to a beautiful church, I encourage you to try praying with sacred art. You don’t need to be an art historian or even know anything about sacred art! Remember, sacred art was used to educate those unable to read and unfamiliar with the Gospels. Just open your mind and heart to God’s Voice and let Him reveal what you need to see and hear. There is so much beauty waiting to be tapped into. How will you start?
5 Pieces Of Sacred Art To Begin Praying With
The Annunciation | Philippe de Champaigne
The Agony in the Garden | Benvenuto di Giovanni
Stained Glass Panel with the Nativity
Stained Glass Panel with the Visitation
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