Dominican Friar and Artist (ca. 1400-1455)
+ Guido di Piero was born in Vicchio di Mugello, near Florence, Italy.
+ A painter from his youth, he entered the Dominican Order sometime around 1420, taking the religious name “John.” Ordained a priest in 1429, he moved to Florence, where he was introduced to the work of Eastern iconographers through his access to Greek and Byzantine manuscripts kept in the Dominican friary there.
+ Known for his considerable artistic talent and innovations, his most notable works include the Annunciation, Descent from the Cross, and the other frescoes that adorn the friary of San Marco in Florence.
+ By end of the fifteenth century, he had come to be known as “Fra Angelico,” in large part because of the devotional quality of his art which was, for him, a means of preaching and meditating.
+ Fra Angelico died on February 18, 1455, and was beatified in 1982, at which time he was proclaimed patron saint of Christian artists.
In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope Saint John Paul II spoke of the importance of art within the life of the Church and for the sake of humankind, noting that artists have a special vocation to promote the common good: “Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community by means of that supreme art form which is “the art of education”. Within the vast cultural panorama of each nation, artists have their unique place. Obedient to their inspiration in creating works both worthwhile and beautiful, they not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favor of the common good.”
“One has to believe that this good friar has visited paradise and been allowed to choose his models there.”—Michelangelo
who called blessed John of Fiesole
to seek your Kingdom in this world
through the pursuit of perfect charity,
grant, we pray, through his intercession
that we may advance with joyful spirit along the way of love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Religious)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.