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‘The Sacred Image’ is a must-watch for Catholics and art lovers

J-P Mauro - published on 12/12/22

The video series accompanies a new book that instructs on all aspects of the solemnities, from traditions to art and everything in between.

Ascension Press and Benedictine College are teaming up to bring Catholics a unique and comprehensive guide to understanding some of the most important celebrations of the Catholic faith: the solemnities. Titled Solemnities: Celebrating a Tapestry of Divine Beauty, the book and video series combine explanations of the solemnities with Church teaching, prayers, reflections, activities, and some of the finest Catholic artwork history has to offer.

Solemnities book cover

The book

According to Ascension, each chapter of Solemnities: Celebrating a Tapestry of Divine Beauty will examine one of the 17 solemnities of the Universal Calendar of the Catholic Church. It was written by three experts from the Liturgical Institute, Christopher Carstens, Alexis Kutarna, and Denis McNamara, who display their deft knowledge of Catholic practices and Church history to illuminate and instruct on the Catholic celebrations. 

Each chapter will present readers with an abundance of information on the solemnities, such as when and why they are celebrated, their references in Holy Scriptures and Church tradition, and inspiring backgrounds on the holy person or event the day honors. 

Furthermore, the book is rounded out by outstanding full-page illustrations of famous Catholic artwork, with explanations and reflections from art historian and co-author Denis McNamera, who is Executive Director of the Center for Beauty and Culture at Benedictine College. Readers will also enjoy images of solemnity celebrations from around the world, and even suggestions for family activities that will reinforce the lessons learned about each Catholic feast day.

Solemnities: Celebrating a Tapestry of Divine Beauty is a worthy addition to any Catholic library, and an all-in-one guide to all of the solemnities. What makes it even more valuable to faith instruction is the excellent video series that Benedictine College is producing to accompany it. 

The videos

Benedictine College has produced a new video series in which Denis McNamara gives brief and concise explanations of the outstanding artworks featured in the book. Titled The Sacred Image, this series launched with The Immaculate Conception, examining all the elements of painter Francisco de Zurbarán’s masterpiece, featured above.

McNamara is a natural host for the series, as he keeps his brief lecture to a comfortable, conversational tone. His explanation of the symbols that arise from each brush stroke are like a billow on the flame of curiosity and each element he points out reveals yet more depth to the piece. For example, if he had not pointed out the faces of angels in the clouds around the Blessed Virgin, then we may have overlooked them completely. 

What makes The Sacred Image even more memorable are the fantastic digital effects that Benedictine College employed. As McNamara reaches each new point of interest in the painting, the artwork is slowly filled in with color. This brings a wonderful illumination to the entire project that draws the eye and keeps viewers engaged.

This is just the first installment of The Sacred Image, but Benedictine College intends to release one for each of the solemnities, to be released near the celebration’s feast day. Be sure to follow Benedictine College on YouTube so you don’t miss a single episode of this fascinating and faithful series. 

Interested in picking up a copy of Solemnities: Celebrating a Tapestry of Divine Beauty? The book is available to purchase now at Ascension Press

ArtCatholicDevotions and FeastsEducationHistory
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