"Holy images are the books of the ignorant" Pope Gregory the Great
"[T]he honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented... " The Council of Nicaea (7th Ecumenical,787 AD)
Christians from the very beginning (first century) adorned their catacombs with paintings of Christ, The Virgin Mary and of the saints, of scenes from the Bible and allegorical groups is too obvious and too well known for it to be necessary to insist upon the fact. The catacombs are the cradle of all Christian art. Since their discovery in the sixteenth century
Catholics do not worship paintings, or statues. They are just a way of conveying something about God, and are not God themselves. It is quite clear to any thinking person that stone or paint cannot be God, but can only represent, or tell something about, some small aspect of God. He is far too great to understand fully, let alone represent fully..
Pope Gregory indicated that the emphasis, with regard to religious art, is education:
"On the other hand, in Rome especially, we find the position of holy images explained soberly and reasonably. They are the books of the ignorant. This idea is a favorite one of [Pope] St. Gregory the Great (d. 604). He writes to an Iconoclast bishop, Serenus of Marseilles, who had destroyed the images in his diocese: "Not without reason has antiquity allowed the stories of saints to be painted in holy places. And we indeed entirely praise thee for not allowing them to be adored, but we blame thee for breaking them. For it is one thing to adore an image, it is quite another thing to learn from the appearance of a picture what we must adore. What books are to those who can read, that is a picture to the ignorant who look at it; in a picture even the unlearned may see what example they should follow; in a picture they who know no letters may yet read. Hence, for barbarians especially a picture takes the place of a book" (Ep. ix,105, in P. L., LXXVII, 1027)
"The highest form of vision was contemplation, the act of seeing God. He summed up the use of images in Christian worship as having, he reasoned, three functions. One was to teach the untutored: “Simple people . . . are instructed by them as if by books.” Another was to stimulate remembrance: “The mystery of the Incarnation and the examples of the saints may be the more active in our memory through being daily represented to the eyes.” Finally, images were affective; they could prompt “feelings of devotion . . . being aroused more effectively by things seen than by things read.”-Saint Thomas Aquinas
From the Roman Missal: "Images for Veneration by the Faithful"
Sacred Images
"318. In the earthly Liturgy, the Church participates, by a foretaste, in that heavenly Liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which she journeys as a pilgrim, and where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; and by venerating the memory of the Saints, she hopes one day to have some part and fellowship with them.
Thus, images of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints, in accordance with the Church's most ancient tradition, should be displayed for veneration by the faithful in sacred buildings and should be arranged so as to usher the faithful toward the mysteries of faith celebrated there. For this reason, care should be taken that their number not be increased indiscriminately, and that they be arranged in proper order so as not to distract the faithful's attention from the celebration itself. There should usually be only one image of any given Saint. Generally speaking, in the ornamentation and arrangement of a church as far as images are concerned, provision should be made for the devotion of the entire community as well as for the beauty and dignity of the images. "

Veneration of Holy Images an Apostolic Letter by Pope John Paul II.
"The believer of today, like the one yesterday, must be
helped in his prayer and spiritual life by seeing works that attempt
to express the mystery [of faith] and never hide it. That is why today, as in
the past, faith is the necessary inspiration of Church art....

Authentic Christian art is that which, through sensible perception,
gives the intuition that the Lord is present in his Church, that the
events of salvation history give meaning and orientation to our life,
that the glory that is promised us already transforms our existence.
Sacred art must tend to offer us a visual synthesis of all dimensions
of our faith." Pope John Paul II.
The Church needs art.
"12. In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable. Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery.

The Church has need especially of those who can do this on the literary and figurative level, using the endless possibilities of images and their symbolic force. Christ himself made extensive use of images in his preaching, fully in keeping with his willingness to become, in the Incarnation, the icon of the unseen God." Pope John Paul II Letter to Artists, 1999.
Can. 1186 To foster the sanctification of the people of God, the Church commends to the special and filial veneration of Christ's faithful the Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, the Mother of God, whom Christ constituted the Mother of all. The Church also promotes the true and authentic cult of the other Saints, by whose example the faithful are edified and by whose intercession they are supported.
Can. 1187 Only those servants of God may be venerated by public cult who have been numbered by ecclesiastical authority among the Saints or the Blessed.
Can. 1188 The practice of exposing sacred images in churches for the veneration of the faithful is to be retained. However, these images are to be displayed in moderate numbers and in suitable fashion, so that the christian people are not disturbed, nor is occasion given for less than appropriate devotion.
Can. 1189 The written permission of the Ordinary is required to restore precious images needing repair: that is, those distinguished by reason of age, art or cult, which are exposed in churches and oratories to the veneration of the faithful. Before giving such permission, the Ordinary is to seek the advice of experts.
Can. 1190 §1 It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics. " Code of Canon Law §§ 1186-90.-From the 1983 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II:
photo:Advocata Nostra, the oldest icon of Mary in Rome, at the Dominican Sisters Convent on Via Trionfale on Monte Mario. This icon can be traced back to its origin in Jerusalem, where tradition has it that it was painted by St Luke after the Resurrection, at the request of the apostles. But the tradition also states that after St Luke had sketched the outline, the image of Our Lady appeared on it. No human hand was involved. Such works are referred to as achiropita—'made without hands'.
read more:Catholic Veneration of Images
Acheiropoieta (Medieval Greek: ἀχειροποίητα, "made without hand"; singular acheiropoieton) — also called Icons Made Without Hands (and variants) — are Christian icons which are said to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human. Invariably these are images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. The most notable examples that are credited by tradition among the faithful are, in the Eastern church the Mandylion, also known as the Image of Edessa, and the Hodegetria (depending on the version of their origin stories followed—in many versions both are painted by human painters of Jesus or Mary while alive), and several Russian icons, and in the West the Shroud of Turin, Veil of Veronica, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Manoppello Image. The term is also used of icons that are only regarded as normal human copies of a miraculously created original archetype.

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