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L'esperienza religiosa cristiana del vedere e dell'udire, n. 49 To consult the file LaGreg49_web-16-arte-contemporanea_v2.pdf


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Scientific Committee:

Y. Dohna Schlobitten

G. Monari

A. Dall'Asta SJ

N. Gonçalves SJ

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L'esperienza religiosa cristiana del vedere e dell'udire: per un'arte contemporanea

International Congress

Rome, March 17-18, 2015

Stained glass window of the Cologne Cathedral by Gerhard Richter (2007)

Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. [...]

Each particular Church should encourage the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new "language of parables".

Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, no. 167


How can the arts today promote evangelization, in light of today's multiculturalism, while still maintaining a continuity with the past? Evangelii Gaudium welcomes new signs and symbols to transmit the Word without obscuring the link between truth, goodness and beauty. Can the Arts play a role in making a real and authentic religious experience of the Word of God, capable of being felt in everyday life, through all the senses?

Questioning philosophy and theology on the truth of art leads to rather generic outcomes that would hardly support artists. Therefore, what seems important to us is the possibility of a theology of the image, along with what could be a theology of sound. This can be done by accommodating an aesthetic theology, by first wondering about what plan, on what terms and with what tools we can answer the question "when is the aesthetic image or musical production significant, beautiful and true for an experience of Christian faith today?"

How do arts prepare to "find new signs, new symbols, a new flesh to transmit the Word," and to enlighten "the inseparable tie among beauty, truth and goodness;" how do they prepare to make themselves vehicle of Gospel or to become Gospel themselves, and the tie and mediation between God and man, between the finite and infinite?

How can arts participate in the spirit of the liturgy, being therefore capable of returning to an aesthetic experience that corresponds to the body of the faith experience? Can arts participate in evangelization, and at the same time, solicit in a Christian sense the different sensitivities of the present? Can arts participate in the dialogue between the aesthetic of authenticity and the hermeneutic of truth? What role can arts play in maturing Christian social feelings (and not) feeding paradoxical and sometimes caricature mythologies of the religious?

Thus, the question is how do arts prepare the faithful and all men to gain a real and authentic religious experience through all the senses (sight, hearing, etc. ) - in their feelings and behaviours, and in their spirit, ideas, symbols and institutions? Moreover, how do arts meet the three fundamental relationships of otherness that raise man towards the Other, the other men and themselves - the Word of God as felt in everyday life, a ‘biblical narrative' translated in its deepest sense, the Word Incarnate?

Answering this 'question' is not easy. It requires ‘trying to understand', referring to all that theology, philosophy, anthropology and liturgy offer. Indeed, if we look for a theology that reflects support of artists, one can hardly find it or if one were to translate art into the theological sphere, hermeneutical philosophy says "the hermeneutic rediscovery of the truth of art has stopped, for now, to rather generic outcomes" (Vattimo).

To what extent, and therefore, how much theology, philosophy and ‘theoretical' reflection in the broadest sense, together with liturgy, can support art and the artist? Returning to the original question (to art), to theology, philosophy, and anthropology, we should ask first and foremost on which 'plan,' in which 'terms' and with what 'tools' can we look for an answer to the question "When are images or musical achievement significant, beautiful and true for an experience of Christian faith today'?

Articulation of the Conference

The conference will include two days of work. On the first day, theology, philosophy and anthropology will be examined in terms of the question or plan in which goodness, beauty and truth can refer to the arts and how they are addressed to the experience of faith today. A second day will be divided into two parts: the first one dedicated to specific positions of theory and art criticism in the face of concrete experiences in the fields of visual arts and music. On the second day there will be a panel discussion devoted to opening a dialogue between theological, philosophical components and the theoretical - critical ones, as well as those represented by the artists themselves.

A concrete sign in the artistic sense will be proposed at the end of the first day of work.