| OVER 3,000 ARTISTS MEET WITH POPE
| John Paul II Rekindles Dialogue between Faith and Art
VATICAN CITY, FEB 18 (ZENIT).- On the feast of the genius of spiritual art, Blessed Fra
Angelico, over 3,000 artists and their families filled St. Peter's Basilica to attend a Mass presided
by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, and to meet with John Paul II. The French Cardinal said that the
Holy Father could both preside over this Jubilee celebration as well as be among the participants,
since he is an actor and a poet. The Cardinal added: "When I went to Poland to meet Cardinal
Wyszinsky, he told me: Cardinal Wojtyla is a great artist, a great poet..."
At the end of the Mass, which was sung by the Choir of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and
shortly before the Pontiff's arrival, Cardinal Etchegaray, president of the Central Committee of the
Great Jubilee, spoke in praise of art, which every man carries within, as image of the Creator, the
Craftsman, as the prophet Isaiah calls him. The congregation laughed when the Cardinal said: "I
don't know how to sing, as you just saw... With Paul Claudel, I asked Lady Music to give me the
note. Now we await him who can give us the real note -- the Holy Father."
The Pope's entry into the Basilica was greeted with a "Viva"" here and there, but sober, because
the congregation seemed accustomed to the harmony of such moments. As the Pontiff glided past
on his platform someone was heard to say "the Pope is young!"
C. Maria Matthia Langone, an icon painter, came from Vancouver, Canada, to have the Holy
Father bless an icon she painted of Christ's face. He did just that as he came down the central
corridor, through which he entered slowly, to shake hands with as many pilgrims as possible.
The artists listened to the Pope's call to conversion in the most difficult work of art of all: the
sculpturing of Christ's features on the stone of one's own heart. "The artist who can do this
profoundly is the Holy Spirit, but he requires our correspondence and docility," the poet Pope said.
At this point, the Pontiff intoned a beautiful song about Michelangelo's cupola. Everyone present
followed the words with attention, gazing on the beauty of the Basilica transfigured by the clear
midday light. "Seen from outside, it seems to curve against the sky over a community recollected in
prayer, as is the love of God. From within, instead, with its vertiginous launching to the heights, it
evokes the work of elevation toward the full encounter with God. "
"Dear artists, this is the elevation to which you are invited in this present Jubilee celebration," the
It was impossible for the Holy to personally greet all the artists, but it was impossible. He did
shake hands with a large group, however.
At the end, Cardinal Etchegaray thanked Archbishop Francesco Marchisano, president of the
Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church, for the good organization with which
the Jubilee of Artists was prepared. The previous day, Marchisano had explained that although
many offers were made to give the Pope a work of art during this Jubilee day, it was decided to
decline these valuable offers in order to emphasize that this is a pilgrimage for everyone to cross
the threshold of the Holy Door together and be united with the Pope in celebrating the Holy Year.
After the Holy Father left, many pilgrim painters, sculptors, poets, musicians and architects from
all over the world, knelt in prayer for a just few moments at Blessed Fra Angelico's tomb, to allow
an interminable line of the talented to pass by. John Paul II raised him to the glory of the altars on
October 3, 1982, and proclaimed him patron of artists on February 18, 1984.
In the afternoon, an International Symposium was held in the Vatican Audience Hall on the
"Church and Art in the Pilgrimage toward God," including representatives from all the branches of
the world of contemporary art, interspersed with musical moments. Among the speakers was
Spanish sculptor Venancio Blanco, Portuguese painter Emilia Nadal, Polish film director Krzystof
Zanussi, Italian composer Ennio Morricone, French painter Andre Gence and English architect
This evening there will be a celebration in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, in whose
adjacent convent Blessed Fra Angelico died. There will be a choreographic performance
dedicated to universal feminine art, organized by the "Adkis Chiti: Women in Music" Foundation.
Simultaneously, there will be a lyrical concert in St. Ignatius' Church, featuring tenor Vincenzo La
Scola and soprano Monica Colonna, which was organized by the Italian Agency for the
Preparation of the Jubilee. The festival will offer the opportunity to officially inaugurate the
restoration of the beautiful frescos of this Church, especially those of the central dome.
Tomorrow the participants in the Artists Jubilee will be able to visit the Christian Catacombs of
Rome free of charge.