Since yesterday, tens of thousands of people pay their last respects to the pope in Rome Benedict XVI. Let us remember that he was a great man, pastor of the Church in search of peace and reconciliation, theologian who will continue to nourish the thought of the Church, but also a great lover of art and artist, he loved to play at the piano… I invite you to lend him my voice and to read you large excerpts from his speech to the artists of November 21, 2009.
“With this meeting, I wish to express and renew the friendship of the Church with the world of art, a friendship consolidated over time, because Christianity, from its origins, understood the value of the arts and wisely used multifaceted languages to communicate his unchangeable message of salvation. This friendship must constantly be promoted and supported, so that it may be authentic and fruitful, adapted to the times and take into account social and cultural situations and changes. […]
It is you who are the actors of this meeting, dear and illustrious artists, belonging to different countries, cultures and religions, perhaps even distant from religious experiences, but wishing to maintain a living communication with the Catholic Church. and not to restrict the horizons of existence to the pure material aspect, to a reductive and trivializing vision. […]
The current moment is unfortunately marked, not only by negative phenomena at the social and economic level, but also by a weakening of hope, by a certain lack of confidence in human relations, which is why the signs are increasing resignation, aggressiveness, despair. Then, the world in which we live is in danger of changing its face because of the work, not always wise, of man who, instead of cultivating its beauty, exploits without conscience the resources of the planet for the benefit of a small number and which often disfigure the natural wonders. What can restore enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human soul to find the way again, to raise its gaze towards the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation if not beauty? Dear artists, you know very well that the experience of beauty, of authentic beauty, neither ephemeral nor superficial, is not something incidental or secondary in the search for meaning and happiness, because this experience does not take away of reality, but, on the contrary, it leads to a close confrontation with everyday life, to free it from darkness and transfigure it, to make it luminous, beautiful.
An essential function of true beauty, in fact, already evident in Plato, consists in giving man a salutary “jolt”, which brings him out of himself, snatches him from resignation, from compromise with everyday life. , also makes him suffer, like a sting that hurts, but precisely in this way “awakens” him, opening the eyes of his heart and mind to him again, giving him wings, pushing him upwards. […]
authentic beauty opens the human heart to nostalgia, to the deep desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, towards what is Beyond oneself. If we let beauty touch us deeply, hurt us, open our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of vision, of the ability to grasp the deep meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are a part and from which we can draw plenitude, happiness, the passion of daily commitment. […]
The great biblical stories, themes, images, parables have inspired countless masterpieces in every field of art, just as they have spoken to the hearts of every generation of believers through the works of the equally eloquent and captivating local arts and crafts. […]
Dear artists, approaching the conclusion, I too would like to address, as my predecessor already did, a cordial, friendly and passionate appeal. You are the guardians of beauty; you have, thanks to your talent, the possibility of speaking to the heart of humanity, of touching individual and collective sensitivity, of arousing dreams and hopes, of broadening the horizons of knowledge and human commitment. So be grateful for the gifts received and fully aware of the great responsibility of communicating beauty, of communicating in beauty and through beauty!
Be, you too, through your art, heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity! And do not be afraid to confront yourselves with the primary and ultimate source of beauty, to dialogue with believers, with those who, like you, feel they are on a pilgrimage in the world and in history, towards infinite Beauty! Faith takes nothing away from your genius, your art, on the contrary it exalts and nourishes them, it encourages them to cross the threshold and contemplate with fascinated and moved eyes the ultimate and definitive goal, the sun without twilight which illuminates and beautifies the present. […]
Dear friends, I encourage you to discover and express ever better, through the beauty of your works, the mystery of God and the mystery of man. God bless you ! »
Pope Benedict XVIthrough this meeting, followed in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II, who had written a letter to artists on April 4, 1999, and in those of Saint Paul VI, who had organized a first meeting with artists on May 7, 1964 in the Sistine Chapel.