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How Catholic art saved the faith

Many who have travelled to Europe and even neighbouring countries in Asia would have admired the vast collection of art works that depict the different religions. And the vast collection of historical art in the Catholic Church would inspire even the uninitiated atheist to pause and think about the existence of God.
 
During the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church was in a state of chaos. The faithful were confused by the different religions that were trying to win people over. One of the Church’s responses to all this turmoil was to use the beauty of art as a peaceful way to teach and draw people away from conflict.
 
For example, the value of intercessory prayer was reinforced visually with art depicting the patron saints, guardian angels and purgatory. There was also art teaching the faithful how to live a good Christian life.
 
There will be soon an opportunity for those who want to know more about Christian art to hear first-hand from Doctor Elizabeth Lev, a world-renowned art historian and Vatican expert. She will be in Hong Kong to give talks based on her latest book How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art.
 
For Catholics, Doctor Lev’s talk will be an opportunity to renew our faith through the beauty of great and ageless works of Catholic art, and to discover the stories that led to their creation.
 
Non-Catholics may also appreciate Doctor Lev’s talk because her thrust would be on art as a medium of communication and she will be speaking about priceless masterpieces whose creators are Renaissance Masters such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini who have inspired generations of artists worldwide. Today, their works attract thousands of international  tourists.
 
The talk will be held on Thursday 29 August 2019 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Wan Chai, Hong Kong at 7.00pm. Attendance is free.
 
Evangelisation through art
The Vatican Museums is one of the oldest and most important museums in the world. It’s been around for more than 500 years and covers more than 5,000 years of human history. The museums, archaeological areas, villas and gardens, have attracted more than six million annual visitors, making it the fifth most visited museum in the world.
 
Founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, it is the home of great artists like Michelangelo, Rafael and others who created magnificent art that bears witness to the history of faith, art and culture.
 
According to Pope Francis, “The Vatican Museums must increasingly be a place of beauty and welcome. They must welcome new forms of art. They must open their doors to people from all over the world, as an instrument of dialogue between cultures and religions, a tool for peace.”
 
The Vatican Museum’s vast collection of priceless art is sadly subject to the ravages of time. The preservation of these collections requires vast sums but must continue if the unique spiritual and cultural mission of the Vatican Museums is to flourish.
 
The Asian Patron of the Arts in the Vatican (APAVM)
Answering this call, the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums (PAVM), an inter-faith group was formed 35 years ago. With the support of the Vatican Office and the National Office, the PAVM has helped to raise awareness and provide funding to restore and conserve the vast collection of art and buildings of the Vatican Museums.
 
PAVM was not present in Asia until May 2016 when APAVM commenced operations following a visit to the Vatican by the first batch of Asian patrons. Today APAVM has branch operation in Singapore and Hong Kong and soon to be, The Philippines. APAVM is a fully engaged chapter of a global fraternity of 25 PAVM Chapters. For more information, visit http://apavm.com.
 
 
 
 
(This article first appeared in Catholic News, Singapore)