Sacred Art and the Human Heart
I had a wonderful meeting with the Irish sculptor Dony Macmanus today in Manhattan. A dream of mine to create a course on the Theology of the Body and Sacred Art is starting to take shape as sure as this master forms his works in clay and stone. I know this work needs a solid foundation and thought Dony would be the perfect person with whom to connect for ideas. He has been creating deeply moving work for well over a decade; sculpted pieces, busts and bronze figures and altarpieces (and occasional paintings as well). For most of that time, the fire behind it all has been Blessed John Paul II's Christian anthropology or vision of man and woman, made in the Divine image; the Theology of the Body. Dony discovered the teaching through the comments of a priest visiting him in his studio in 1999, in the middle of his creation of a figure of Christ crucified. Dony was intent on showing the reality of the incarnation of Jesus, building up his sculpture from the very bones of the Word made flesh, adding musculature, sinew and skin, layer on layer. A profoundly prayerful experience. After discovering the Pope's TOB, his work took flight, and through teaching his art in the transcendent light of the TOB, he has been able to draw others deeper into the Word made flesh. Conversions are happening in the studio! Conversions among young artists though contact with the beauty of the human form and the Beauty in Whose Image this form is fashioned.
"To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth. I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated... Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Message to Conmunion and Liberation, 2002
I'd encourage you to visit Dony's website (below) and pray for the success of his work, our TOB course, and for the hands and hearts of artists the world over. Their's is a vocation of beauty, leading others to beauty, through the beautiful.