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These Catholics believe beauty will save the world

ELIZABETH LEV

lizlevinrome | Instagram | Fair Use

John Burger - published on 10/10/21

"Return to beauty" is the theme of 2021 Catholic Art Institute gathering in Chicago.

Liz Lev, a leading art historian from Rome will headline the Catholic Art Institute’s annual conference in Chicago October 24.

The conference, titled “Return to Beauty,” will bring together leading artists and scholars to rediscover the power of beauty in the modern world.

Lev, a renowned author and Vatican tour guide, will be keynote speaker at the conference, to be held at Chicago’s Drake Hotel. The day-long event opens with a Solemn High Mass featuring Renaissance choral music in the Baroque splendor of Chicago’s historic St. John Cantius Church, a parish well known for bringing beauty into Christian worship.  

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Lev is a transplanted US art historian with degrees from University of Chicago and University of Bologna. She has been working as a guide in Rome for over 20 years and teaching at Duquesne University’s Italian campus. She is the author of four books, including How Catholic Art Saved the Faith and The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici. She has commented on art and the papacy for several television networks. Her latest project was hosting a radio show for BBC’s Heart and Soul on Leonardo da Vinci.

“Beauty has been denigrated in today’s culture as a result of the prevalent utilitarian ideology,” says organizer and Chicago Art Institute President Kathleen Carr, who is also an award-winning fine artist. “This unfortunately relegates those with artistic gifts to the periphery or worse, and tells them their gifts are useless. This conference will shine a light on the necessity of beauty in the modern world and offer an opportunity for fellowship, networking and a path to restoration.” 

The Catholic Art Institute is a non-profit arts organization working to restore a culture of truth, beauty, and goodness. “We empower artists to use their gifts to glorify God and captivate souls through beauty,” it says on its website. The Institute “recognizes the essential need for beauty to elevate our senses and illuminate our souls. We believe that churches, as images of Heaven on earth, should be adorned and designed by artists and architects pursuing the utmost excellence in their craft.”

It further says that “great art is made, and culture is changed through community; with this in mind, our events foster dialogue and provide networking opportunities for professionals and aspiring professionals alike.”

“Today our cultural heritage of beauty is threatened,” the Institute says. “Within academia, in major art institutions, in our culture at large, and regrettably, within the Church itself, traditional standards of beauty are often seen as irrelevant or are directly attacked. The Catholic Art Institute offers a community of mutual support to those working to uphold the value of beauty and revivify the arts.”

For more information, see the Institute’s website or write to kcarr@catholicartinstitute.org.

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