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Visual Character of a Religious Environment

There have been a lot of assumptions and accusations when it comes to the visual character of the Catholic environment stemming down from the ages of iconoclasts. Iconoclasts are those people who do not believe in paying respects to the statues of saints found in churches and some Catholic and Christian Orthodox homes as they consider this act blasphemous.

The reason the churches and homes carry these images in their altars is because according to the website Religious Art: Catholic Teaching down the Centuries, the council of Nicea agreed that “[T]he honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented… ” Catholics make it clear that the religion does not teach the worship of paintings or statues. Instead, the kneeling, sign of the cross and other acts done in front of the statue is simply a respected marker or representative of the omnipresent supreme being and saints.

This is why, the General Instructions of the Roman Missal indicates, “images of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints, in accordance with the Church’s most ancient tradition, should be displayed for veneration by the faithful in sacred buildings and should be arranged so as to usher the faithful toward the mysteries of faith celebrated there. For this reason, care should be taken that their number not be increased indiscriminately, and that they be arranged in proper order so as not to distract the faithful’s attention from the celebration itself.

There should usually be only one image of any given Saint. Generally speaking, in the ornamentation and arrangement of a church as far as images are concerned, provision should be made for the devotion of the entire community as well as for the beauty and dignity of the images. ” The same website also indicates that ” In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God.

It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable. Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery. “

Work Cited

Religious Art Catholic Teaching Down the Centuries. 1997. Rev. Roger J. Smith. Retrieved March 25, 2007 from http://landru. i-link-2. net/shnyves/Catholic_Tradition_art. html

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