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Author explores how art, architecture lead us to prayer


This is the cover of "Art & Prayer: The Beauty of Turning to God" by Timothy Verdon. The book is reviewed by Sister Mona Castelazo, CSJ. (CNS)

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"Art & Prayer: The Beauty of Turning to God" by Timothy Verdon. Paraclete Press (Orleans, Massachusetts, 2014). 320 pp., $32.50.

Msgr. Timothy Verdon, author of "Art & Prayer," presents great works of art capable of evoking creative responses to the divine.

The beauty of the works spurs the heart to praise God, as does the splendor found in nature. Images and architecture, he writes, can teach us and lead us to prayer as do the Scriptures, acting as "stimuli" to encounter God's presence as a feast.

The author, academic director of the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Center for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy, sees art as expressing an incarnational view of the universe. He quotes St. John's insight that, in Jesus Christ, "life was made visible ... the image of the unseen God."

Art is a manifestation of the Word, as is all of creation. A painting of the baptism of Christ, by Piero della Francesca, for example, presents prayer "both as an occasion of existential commitment and as the place of eternal identity."

Another example is a fresco by Masaccio, titled "Holy Trinity with Mary, John and Donors." By showing no difference in size between the figures of the trinity, the saints and the earthly donors, the work indicates that the mystery of the Trinity includes humanity without hierarchical separation so that daily life opens onto the depths of God, precluding final separation even in death.

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