Monday, February 18, 2008

The Patron Saint of Christian Artists

(This last one has been my one and only wallpaper on my laptop -- I still love looking at it five years later -- it's such a wonderful depiction of "The Resurrection," only mine is much brighter).

I opened my usual Saint of the Day e-mail this morning, wondering who this Blessed John guy was, only to discover a tribute to my favorite artist, Fra Angelico. Below you will find the entry from, and I hope that you enjoy these works of my favorite artist. (You knew that my favorite artist would HAVE to be medieval, right????) Some of these are not very saturated colors because the frescoes are fading rapidly after nearly 600 years, but they are still stunning to this closet medievalist.

February 18, 2008

Blessed John of Fiesole

(c. 1400-1455)

The patron of Christian artists was born around 1400 in a village overlooking Florence. He took up painting as a young boy and studied under the watchful eye of a local painting master. He joined the Dominicans at about age 20, taking the name Fra Giovanni. He eventually came to be known as Fra Angelico, perhaps a tribute to his own angelic qualities or maybe the devotional tone of his works.

He continued to study painting and perfect his own techniques, which included broad-brush strokes, vivid colors and generous, lifelike figures. Michelangelo once said of Fra Angelico: “One has to believe that this good monk has visited paradise and been allowed to choose his models there.” Whatever his subject matter, Fra Angelico sought to generate feelings of religious devotion in response to his paintings. Among his most famous works are the Annunciation and Descent from the Cross as well as frescoes in the monastery of San Marco in Florence.

He also served in leadership positions within the Dominican Order. At one point Pope Eugenius approached him about serving as archbishop of Florence. Fra Angelico declined, preferring a simpler life. He died in 1455.
I hope that you have enjoyed this Lenten inspiration painted by a holy monk who gives us a slight taste of heavenly glory as he used his brush to meditate upon the life, death, and resurrection of Christ our Lord. Whether it be via the brush or the pen, the camera or textiles, music or dance, or however God has gifted each of us, may we each bring glory to God through our artistic expression as Fra Angelico has shown us. I wish a blessed and holy Lent to each and every one of you, in the Name of our Saviour.

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