Formation for Sacred Artists

In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable.

Pope Saint John Paul II, Letter to Artists

There is a great need and opportunity for artist formation that allows our artistic tradition to grow and flourish. This noble purpose requires artists to be well versed in theology, trained in craftsmanship, and dedicated with a love for God.

Ultimately, those looking to start a career in sacred art need to find formal education. There is no simple best answer for the education of Catholic artists today, especially since only a limited number of experienced artists are able to mentor students.

Some of the most rigorous and premier technical training today is offered through Classical ateliers, such as those listed by Art Renewal Center .

This is best preceded or supplemented by a solid moral and intellectual formation at an authentically Catholic liberal arts college as can be found on The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College .

Currently a few college programs continue to develop that are specifically geared for Catholic artists:

Benedictine College

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Thomas More College

Individual opportunities available include workshops at Enders Island and conferences such as those hosted by the Catholic Art Institute . These opportunities are excellent for ongoing education, art enthusiasts, or for those discerning this vocation start.

As mentioned, Sacred Artists should be formed with the theological and compositional understanding and technical skills. To build a career, they also need business insight. Those supporting a family, especially must consider the time to grow their professional and educational networks.

The responsibility of this vocation is a great gift to be united with the prayers of the faithful and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This unique call should be nurtured so that in finding true inspiration in the Holy Spirit, one can humbly invite Him to speak to the world in loving self gift.

Bishops should have a special concern for artists, so as to imbue them with the spirit of sacred art and of the sacred liturgy. This they may do in person or through suitable priests who are gifted with a knowledge and love of art.

It is also desirable that schools or academies of sacred art should be founded in those parts of the world where they would be useful, so that artists may be trained.

All artists who, prompted by their talents, desire to serve God’s glory in holy Church, should ever bear in mind that they are engaged in a kind of sacred imitation of God the Creator, and are concerned with works destined to be used in Catholic worship, to edify the faithful, and to foster their piety and their religious formation.

Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium 127