Every part of a well-designed church is deliberately planned to bring glory to God — the shape, the artwork, the liturgical furnishings and everything in between. Architects and artists since the beginning of Christianity have used brick and mortar, paint and glass to explain theological truths and salvation history. Yet oftentimes, the significance and symbolism of and within churches is overlooked. This series aims to explain the art and architecture of diocesan churches, so that the faithful can better appreciate the beauty around them.
An exhibit at the National Gallery of Art brings together the works
of three generations of the Florentine family of artists founded by
15th-century artist Luca Della Robbia. Luca’s masterpiece in the tin-glazed
terracotta medium that he invented, a nearly life-size “Visitation” loaned from
a church in Pistoia for the first time, is alone worth the visit.
A new play at Arena Stage examines the two women who legalized
abortion in America.
Every church has an architectural style which can add theological significance and hint at the era it was built.More
Every part of a well-designed church is deliberately planned to bring glory to God — the shape, the artwork, the liturgical furnishings and everything in between. This series aims to explain the art and architecture of diocesan churches, so the faithful can better appreciate the beauty around them.More
Every part of a well-designed church is deliberately planned to bring glory to God — the shape, the artwork, the liturgical furnishings and everything in betweenMore
A trio of new mosaics greets parishioners at Our Lady of Hope
Church in Potomac Falls. The artworks, installed last month
over the front entrance, were commissioned by Father William
P. Saunders, pastor. Liturgical designer Ronald Neill Dixon
of Staunton created the compositions.
"(St. Jerome) relates therefore that Joachim, who was of
Galilee and of the town of Nazareth, took to wife St. Anna of
Bethlehem. Both were just, and walked without reproach in all
the commandments of the Lord. They divided all their
substance in three parts, allotting one part to the Temple
and its ministers, and another to the poor and the pilgrims,
reserving the third part to themselves and the uses of their
household. Thus they lived for 20 years and had no issue of
their wedlock; and they made a vow to the Lord that if He
granted them offspring, they would dedicate it to the service
Carlo Crivelli, an artist of the Italian Renaissance who
worked on the eastern coast of the peninsula in the late 15th
and early 16th century, had his own insightful ways of
depicting familiar scenes from the Gospel. Two of his
interpretations stand out in the exhibit currently on view at
the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, since they capture
important moments in the liturgical season of Holy Week and
The very name of Jesus Christ reveals the dual environment
into which Our Savior was born in Roman-ruled Judea around,
as scholars now believe, between 6 and 4 B.C. Jesus is a
Jewish name, and Christ (the anointed one) is Greek.
Aleona Isakova grew up in Tver, Russia, in a family of
atheists. There were no Bibles. There was no way for her to
In 1991, American missionaries came to Russia and introduced
her to Jesus. She said this interaction "filled an empty
place in my heart when they spoke of God, and brought light
to a dark place."
As new Christians, Isakova and her husband started their own
"church" in their home, sharing prayer and reading the Bible
with friends. The group outgrew that and rented space in a
public library, and later, were able to open a church. Her
husband became a pastor of this new congregation.
During a sermon at a conference in Moscow for pastors and
their wives, Isakova realized how she could share God's glory
through a line of haute couture or high fashion gowns.
Isakova believes God showed her a vision of "the entire Bible
story through fashion. I saw the Creation, Jesus' birth, the
Beatitudes, Crucifixion and Resurrection all unfold in front
of my eyes - and all created in the most beautiful fabrics I
had never seen before," she said. "It was like a movie
Isakova's artistic style of almost faceless figures dressed
in gowns exquisitely drawn with thin black pen strokes and
vivid watercolors is a mix of many styles of art she loves -
and as a fashion designer, "gowns are my language."
"I don't draw faces, because it is my soul, or your soul. It
isn't just a dress, it is something spiritual," she said.
Over the course of 30 days, Isakova drew 22 inspirational
sketches of what she says God had shown her. After another
four years of work, "The Olive Tree in the Garden of God"
became a collection of 52 gowns.
This collection was accomplished through hard work, prayer
and for a single purpose - "to glorify the Lord before all
"(The collection is) not for sale, not for commercial (use),
not for human glory. It is for Him only," said Isakova. "It
is a unique collection because it was created through prayer
and God's vision, and the money to create it came from prayer
After the success of her first Bible-based collection,
Isakova read the Song of Songs (or the Song of Solomon) from
the Old Testament and said she had another vision. She
believes God once again provided her the details of how the
Bible story should be illustrated. She spent two years
working on the drawings that describe the collection of love
lyrics that tell a dramatic tale of mutual desire and
courtship - all detailed on the gowns the figures wear.
These illustrations can be seen, and prints can be purchased,
at Trinity House Café in Leesburg, where Isakova is a
regular customer. She is the sixth artist to display her work
"The café is such a special place and full of God's
presence, and it is so real," said Isakova.
She approached Ever Johnson, executive director of the John
Paul II Fellowship, the nonprofit owner of Trinity House
Café, about exhibiting her work at the restaurant in
the heart of historic Leesburg.
The restaurant does more than just feed customer's bodies;
they try to feed their souls by "offering a place to
experience culture, art, beauty and philosophy in a
comfortable setting," said Johnson.
"The Holy Spirit touched her in a breathtaking way, and she
has co-created the most captivating images of love and
beauty, which are at their height in her watercolor series
that illustrates Song of Songs," said Johnson. "We've been so
blessed by her presence and her testimony in our little
community. I hope everyone can come out and take in the power
of such a witness."Rausch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.More
In the center of an exhibit of Islamic art at the Walters Art
Museum in Baltimore, a sparkling Christian image seems
fitting for the U.S. Catholic Church's National Migration
Week Jan. 3-9.
NEW YORK - Frank Chambers was looking for a peaceful moment
as he strolled through the noisy holiday exhibits at the New-York Historical Society
Museum & Library on a recent December afternoon.
Dante Alighieri is "a prophet of hope, a herald of humanity's
possible redemption and liberation, of profound change in
every man and woman, of all of humanity." So wrote Pope
Francis last May as he saluted the celebrations of the author
of the epic poem, The Divine Comedy, honoring Dante on the
anniversary of his birth in 1265 - 750 years ago.