Liturgical elements must foster prayer, sense of communion

Liturgical elements

Liturgical elements – aesthetic and artistic features surrounding the liturgy must foster prayer and a sense of communion, says Pope Francis.

In a written message, he says: “The space, light, acoustics, colours, images, symbols (and) liturgical furnishings constitute fundamental elements of that reality, that event, human and divine at the same time, which is precisely the liturgy”.

The message was addressed to Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, the Dicastery for Culture and Education prefect. The Cardinal is also president of the coordinating council of the pontifical academies St John Paul II instituted.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin read the message about liturgical elements at an awards ceremony the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi organised.

The awards this year were dedicated to sacred architecture.

“We know well how important the celebratory setting is in fostering prayer and a sense of communion,” the Pope wrote.

Francis explained sacred architecture and spaces “are as significant and timely as ever, since there is always a lively and sometimes even heated debate on proposals for the renewal of sacred architecture, which has the arduous task of creating … adequate spaces in which the Christian community can celebrate the holy liturgy with dignity according to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council”.

In his 2022 apostolic letter, “Desiderio Desideravi” (“I have earnestly desired”), Francis insisted Catholics need to understand better the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reform and the power and beauty of the Mass.

He highlighted the importance of not losing hope in helping people to become aware of and understand symbolic language.

“There can be no question of renouncing such language,” he wrote in the encyclical.

“It is rather a question of recovering the capacity to use and understand the symbols of the liturgy.”

The other essential aspect Francis noted in his message concerned the inspiration of artistic and architectural creativity.

This comes from a Christian vision flowing “from liturgical life, from the action of the Spirit and not from human subjectivity alone,” he wrote.

The gold medallist for this year’s pontifical academies award went to OPPS Architecture Studio in Florence.

The award was for its work renovating a chapel in Rome that belongs to the Sts Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena Foundation of Religion.

The silver medal went to architect Federica Frino for her design of the new St Thomas Church in Pontedera, Italy.


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