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On the anniversary of the Lateran Council of AD 769, and in observance of World Art Day and the World Day of Culture. For other related works, you may access the page Art and Architecture. For other legally free ebooks, you may access the List of Free eBooks (Arranged by Title) and the List of Free eBooks (Grouped by Subject).

“The firmament on high is his beauty, the beauty of heaven with its glorious shew. The sun, when he appeareth shewing forth at his rising, an admirable instrument, the work of the Most High… And the moon in all in her season, is for a declaration of times and a sign of the world… The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven; the Lord enlighteneth the world on high… Look upon the rainbow, and bless him that made it: it is very beautiful in its brightness.

“By his commandment he maketh the snow to fall apace, and sendeth forth swiftly the lightnings of his judgment… The eye admireth at the beauty of the whiteness thereof, and the heart is astonished at the shower thereof… At his word the wind is still, and with his thought he appeaseth the deep, and the Lord hath planted islands therein… There are great and wonderful works: a variety of beasts, and of all living things, and the monstrous creatures of whales.

“What shall we be able to do to glorify him: for the Almighty himself is above all his works… Glorify the Lord as much as ever you can, for he will yet far exceed, and his magnificence is wonderful. Blessing the Lord, exalt him as much as you can: for he is above all praise.”

(Ecclesiasticus xliii, 1-2, 6, 10, 12, 14, 20, 25, 27, 30, 32-33)

“To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth… [T]he true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful…

“The experience of the beautiful has received new depth and new realism. The One who is the Beauty itself let himself be slapped in the face, spat upon, crowned with thorns; the Shroud of Turin can help us imagine this in a realistic way. However, in his Face that is so disfigured, there appears the genuine, extreme beauty: the beauty of love that goes “to the very end”… The icon of the crucified Christ… imposes a condition: that we let ourselves be wounded by him, and that we believe in the Love who can risk setting aside his external beauty to proclaim, in this way, the truth of the beautiful…

“Dostoyevsky’s often-quoted sentence: ‘The Beautiful will save us’… is referring… to the redeeming Beauty of Christ… If we know him, not only in words, but if we are struck by the arrow of his paradoxical beauty, then we will truly know him, and know him not only because we have heard others speak about him. Then we will have found the beauty of Truth, of the Truth that redeems. Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom his own light becomes visible.”

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI], “Contemplation of Beauty“, 2002)