From Sacra Liturgia, Rome: Beauty is a language without words and must be present in art and architecture

Here is a report of the presentation on architecture and art by Fr Michael Lang of the Brompton Oratory at the Sacra Liturgia 2013. I hope I have done it justice.

Once again this was posted first on Catholic Education Daily. This is blog of the Cardinal Newman Society which seeks to spur on liturgical renewal in Catholic higher education, so I was very happy to be asked to report on the conference for them; and to make NLM readers aware of the efforts they are making in this direction as well as what went on in the report.

In this presentation Fr Lang stressed the need for liturgical forms that are in harmony with with well directed worship and for informed patronage; and a dialogue between artist and patron in the planning stages. In his presentation he did not rely on personal opinion as to the quality of the architecture he was showing (the opinions expressed in the article about particular churches are mine not his). Rather, he laid out the processes by which the architect was commissioned, and told us the (often absurd and grandiose) aims articulated by the architect. Then, dispassionately, he compared the stated aims with the requirements of the traditions of Church pointing out differences and contradictions if they occurred. Then without further comment after this analysis he presented us with a photograph of the final product, allowing us to make up our minds. The laughter of the audience said it all. I did not notice Fr Lang even crack a smile as he did this, which just seemed to add to the deadpan humour.

He finished by giving us some guiding principles that he felt that patrons should focus on when commissioning art and artchitecture and that might avoid some of the errors of the last 100 year.

Once again, the full article is here.


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David is an Englishman living in New Hampshire, USA. He is an artist, teacher, published writer and broadcaster who holds a permanent post as Artist-in-Residence and Lecturer in Liberal Arts at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. The Way of Beauty program, which is offered at TMC, focuses on the link between Catholic culture, with a special emphasis on art, and the liturgy. David was received into the Church in London in 1993. Visit the Way of Beauty blog at

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