Calls artists “custodians” of a beauty that can "heal the many wounds that mark the hearts and souls of the men and women of our day.”
At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Focus Features and director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) announced Pope Francis – A Man of His Word, a new documentary about the pope’s ideas on the environment, immigration, consumerism, and social justice. The pope also made his big screen debut at Cannes (with a cameo as himself) in Beyond the Sun, a “family adventure” about children searching for Jesus in different cultures.
Now, the Vatican Museums has unveiled another upcoming documentary about the pope titled Pope Francis – My Idea of Art, which explores Francis’ artistic sensibilities “through 11 celebrated works”:
The documentary is based on the book Pope Francis – My idea of art (Papa Francesco – La mia idea di Arte), written by the pope with Tiziana Lupi and published jointly by Mondadori and Vatican Museums Publishing House in December 2015.
Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums, presented the documentary during a press conference on Tuesday.
“The art of mercy is truly Pope Francis’ idea of art. It is art that is directed toward the humble,” she said. “And the Vatican Museums correspond directly to the pope’s message on art.”
During the presentation, spectators were treated to “a kind of ideal art gallery,” which exemplified the Holy Father’s concept of art and its goal of “evangelizing and contrasting with a throwaway culture.”
The important link between art and faith had been a key theme for the previous two popes. In his 1999 “Letter to Artists,” John Paul II underscored a “fruitful alliance” between art and the Gospel, observing that art goes “beyond what the senses perceive and, reaching beneath reality’s surface, strives to interpret its hidden mystery.” Benedict XVI also wrote often about the “via pulchritudinis” (the “way of beauty”) – the notion that artistic expression can be a kind of “highway” toward the experience of God. In his General Audience from August 31, 2011, Benedict contemplated the way that Gothic cathedrals, colorful frescoes, and sacred music open the mind to the source of all beauty.
Pope Francis has touched on the subject before as well, but with his characteristic emphasis on humility and mercy. In a 2016 message for the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academies, Francis remarked that artists are “custodians” of a beauty “will heal the many wounds that mark the hearts and souls of the men and women of our day.”
Artnet reports that the film takes the form of a “guided tour” of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. Peter’s Square, with Francis singling out a mix of both classical and contemporary art reflecting the themes of his pontificate. Among the 11 works selected are Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and The Deposition (1603) by Caravaggio, as well as The Virgen de Luján and Christ the Worker, two statues “made from discarded materials” by the 46 year-old Argentinian artist Alejandro Marmo. Francis will reportedly even spotlight the 1984 Renault 4 hatchback he received as a gift.
Pope Francis – My Idea of Art will be available on DVD and subtitled in six languages. No word on an official release date, but Vatican Radio notes that the film will be “distributed in Italy and throughout the rest of the world in the coming months.”
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