The Holy Sonnets by John Donne (1633)

Spiritual truth is difficult for the rational mind to grasp.  The Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth and indeed, absent God’s intrusion our modern minds gravitate to only that which is reasonable – and reason is a hobbled teacher.  We understand this most directly in matters of love, for as Pascal […]

The Holy Trinity Icon by Andrei Rublev (c.1410)

According to legend, the first icon was created by the Gospel writer Luke, when he painted a likeness of Mary while she was still alive. (There is also a famous icon that shows Luke at an easel painting her.) In the fourth century Chrysostom wrote of having a portrait of the apostle Paul on his desk to inspire him as he penned his famous sermons. But the earliest surviving icons are from the sixth and seventh centuries, almost all of them preserved at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Syria.

The Scrovegni Chapel Frescoes by Giotto (c.1305)

Before Giotto, artists mostly worked from predetermined models and prototypes that had been handed down as part of the artistic tradition. These given rules and paradigms determined that artists would not stray far from the Byzantine heritage—art that was stiff, formal, and highly symbolic. But Giotto took another approach, and with it became the fountainhead of Western painting. When he approached a subject, he asked a simple question: What does it look like?