Vatican Congregation Restructured to Emphasis the Importance of Sacred Art and Music

In a very hopeful move the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments will be restructured to focus much more strongly on art and music in the liturgy. This follows directly an moto proprio issued by the Pope in September. The full article in the CNA here (h/t Sara Kitzinger).

We all keep our fingers crossed. Whether or not this has a good effect depends upon how standards are judged by those involved and how they are communicated through the Church. One of the great shapers of my sense of liturgical art and the form that is appropriate for the liturgy is the small, but rich, passage about sacred art in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy. If we see this understanding permeating what is done, then it could be very powerful.

We can’t take it for granted, however. I have seen enough initiatives involving art historians and experts, some even started by Pope Benedict in which he then had little direct involvement. The result was  that although the words about beauty and liturgy at its inception sound good, when I saw the form of the art that they felt embodied it, it was disappointing and puzzling, to say the least.

St Luke and Our Lady, pray for us.

The image below is by an unknown Russian icon painter, of St Luke painting the icon of the Mother of God Hodegetria

David Clayton


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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  • Personally, I bemoan the increasing use of abstract art, especially on our misallettes. Sometimes I spend more time wondering what a particular picture is supposed to be representing than actually praying. My brother, who has spent his career consulting artists on the use of computers, says that a large number of them are actually dyslexic and were advised by their teachers in school to go into art, as the only thing they could do that wouldn’t require reading. As a result, you have large numbers of so-called “artists” with absolutely no talent, so they just splatter paint on a canvas much as a pre-schooler would do, and call it abstract art. There’s nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes, since it does provide these people with some sort of living, but I object when it starts turning up in our churches. (Ecce Homo, anyone?)