Fra Filippo’s resplendent Madonna della Cintola, in the previous post, sent me to a favorite passage in The Waning of the Middle Ages. Johan Huizinga‘s portrait of the linchpins of the medieval world—the ideas that bound together religion, art, and literature—has a few things to say about relics. The significance of them to the culture that embraced them is an integral part of medieval civilization.
The distinctly corporeal conception of the saints was accentuated by the veneration of their relics, not only permitted by the Church but forming an integral part of religion. Continue Reading
“The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” Nothing salutes the historian’s task more cogently than that lapidary first sentence of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go Between. In fairness to Filippo Lippi, there is more to say. And the honor of history demands it—not to clear a path through the thicket of present concerns or to shake a finger at either past or present. But simply to understand our world without—as best we can—an ulterior motive.
Despite Vasari’s known bent for embellishment, his spirited account of Fra Filippo’s elopement with Lucrezia Buti has been accepted in its essentials. Continue Reading
The sexual saga of Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, S.J., a priapic theologian, artist, and abuser of women, has gotten enough press. Now Catholics ask: “What should we do with his art?”
It is the wrong question. The only reason it arises is the infuriating fact that what should be done cannot be done. Punishment ought to be carried out on the man himself. Rupnik should be castrated. Unhappily, we do not do that anymore. So we fantasize about wreaking vengeance on his mosaics. Continue Reading
Last month’s UNCuyo exhibition prompted the Social Ministry of the Archdiocese of Mendoza to whine that the art “seriously offends” religious convictions. That merely acknowledged the obvious. To offend was precisely what it had been designed to do. The display was created as a finger in the eye of Christians, Catholics in particular. Clearly, it required a response. But what kind?
What counts is the character of the response. It is worth remembering that tone itself is a tactic. Enough, please, with politesse in the face of an implacable foe. Continue Reading
What we call culture war is a holy war. Sadly, clerical bureaucracy would rather lose it than make a fuss. Or so it appears from too many instances of clerical capture by the zeitgeist. Recent commotion over anti-Christian sentiment posing as feminist art on show in Mendoza, Argentina, illustrates the state of things. Justice Potter Stewart knew pornography when he saw it. Ordained shepherds of the archdiocese of Mendoza prefer not to notice. Art is all.
Back to that later. But first, some useful history. Continue Reading