Friday, June 9, 2017

Angels in sacred art: Making the invisible visible

ALETEIA
By Elizabeth Lev
Detail of angels in Michelangelo, Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel, altar wall, fresco, 1534-1541 (Vatican City, Rome)
Angels, mostly from the era of the Counter Reformation, proliferate in Roman churches. Saint John Paul II, standing at the threshold of the newly restored Sistine Chapel, was so moved by the images before him that he expressed his admiration in poetry, asking: “How make the invisible visible, how penetrate beyond the bounds of good and evil?” Art found a particular role to play in the problem of rendering the invisible angels visible. Art’s capacity to embody and give visual form to ideas was one of its greatest strengths in this period. As Protestant reformer Henri Zwingli was moving towards the rejection of all images, Counter-Reformation Rome embraced art as a way to allow the faithful to see and meditate upon the invisible, in particular the angels. [More]
Michelangelo, Last Judgment, Sistine Chapel, altar wall, fresco, 1534-1541 (Vatican City, Rome)

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