Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 12 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Teresa of the Andes
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Catholic sculptor is on a mission to “save the world” through liturgical art

J-P Mauro - published on 02/25/21

Dony MacManus is preparing to open a new art school to train "an army of artists to serve Christ."

Catholic artist Dony MacManus is on a mission to save Catholic culture through the beauty of liturgical art. The 49-year-old Irish sculptor says he feels called to “resurrect the Christian tradition in the visual arts.” To accomplish this, MacManus is preparing to share his world-renowned skills at a new art school in Virginia.

Dony considers his artistic drive to be a vocation, and he brings his faith to each project. In the video interview above, he explains that art arises from the overflow of the artist’s interior life. This means that his art, and all art for that matter, is reflective of the artist’s innermost drive. In MacManus’ case, he brings Catholicism to his artworks by keeping his faith at the center of his focus.

This, in turn, can bring the viewer a deeper understanding of faith through art. In his philosophical work Art as Experience, John Dewey establishes that the meaning behind art is determined equally by the artist and the viewer. When viewing MacManus’ distinct Catholic style, faithful and “nones” alike are bearing witness to the artists own faith. As MacManus’ Catholic experiences mingle with the lives and backgrounds of the viewer, this has a vast propensity to spur spiritual growth.

Faith in art

For MacManus, keeping his faith in focus means practicing his Catholicism as he works. The artist explains that he steeps his life in “the liturgy, attending Mass daily, and praying in the church,” as well as meditating on the scriptures and saints. He said:

“If we resurrect the liturgy, that will give direction to our culture and save our culture moving forward. So essentially, in order to save the world we need to save the liturgy.”

This is just what MacManus is hoping to achieve with his new art school. Based in Falls Church, Virginia, the soon-to-be founded school will share MacManus’ skills as a sacred artist with the next generation. In an interview with The Catholic Herald, Dony explained that he wishes to teach high school students. This age group, he believes, is the most malleable and open to learning the secrets of sacred art. He said:

“I deal with high school students because they’re more open, they’re more excited about visual art and the great masters,” he said. “I’m trying to create an army of artists to serve Christ.”

MacManus went on to relate his believe that liturgical art is another form of catechesis. Just as the original purpose of stained glass was to teach the Bible to the illiterate, his sculptures illuminate the Gospels and saints. In this, the primary method of conveying biblical meaning is through beauty. MacManus casually quoted Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, noting that “Beauty will save the world.” He expanded on this sentiment:

“So if we put those two truisms together — ‘beauty will save the world’; ‘liturgy will save the world’ — well, then liturgical art is core.”

Read more about Dony MacManus’ Sacred Art at Aleteia.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
Archbishop Georg Gänswein
I.Media for Aleteia
Gänswein: Benedict XVI expected to live only a few months after r...
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Philip Kosloski
Why you can eat meat on Easter Friday
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Sister Bhagya
Saji Thomas-ACN
Catholic nun faces conversion charges in central India
John Burger
N.Y. Cardinal: “For God’s sake, get back to Mass̶...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.