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‘A Sacred Art Possesed by the Devil’

Cunha Alvarenga

An article by Cardinal Celso Constantini, secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, published in L’Osservatore Romano (October 11, 1953, page 5), confirms much of what we have written on modern art [here, here, here and here.]

Up until now, we have not specifically addressed sacred art in our articles, but rather modern art in general, showing it has a demonic message that makes it unacceptable for the public anywhere it is found. Obviously, this incompatibility increases when dealing with authentic sacred art, since it is turned toward the glory of God. So, the more elevated the theme of the painting or sculpture, the greater the abomination when it is inspired by the principles of modern art.

Jose Orozco communist depiction of Our Lord

The communist Christ of Orozco reduces to ruins Religion and Civilization...
Cardinal Constantini agrees: “Some artists, following today’s fashion of a false primitivism or the wild tendency toward deformation and a metaphysical Abstractionism, tried to enter our churches with [art] pieces that offend the Catholic sense of the faithful. … The Holy Pontiffs Pius XI and Pius XII issued solemn condemnations against such tendencies.

“In effect, Pius XI affirmed, ‘So many works of art, indisputably beautiful … bring to our minds - by an irresistible force of contrast - other so-called works of sacred art that neither lead us to think about the sacred nor make it present to us, but instead deform it and make it a caricature, a true profanation.’

“Pius XII was also peremptory in this regard: ‘As a duty of Our conscience, we must reprove and deplore those paintings and sculptures recently introduced by some [into the churches] which appear as degradations and deformations of true art, and which at times openly affront decorum, modesty and Catholic piety, and miserably offend the genuine religious sentiment. They should absolutely be barred from our churches and expelled from them, like everything that is not in harmony with the sanctity of the holy places.’”

As we can see, the condemnations of the Church targeted the deformations and degradations of modern art. This school should be combated not only in the name of art, but above all in the name of the Faith. This is what Cardinal Constantini affirms, quoting a letter he received from Cardinal George Grente, Bishop of Mans:

“We, who are brothers in the priesthood and guardians of the living traditions of Christian art, should rise up against these deviations not only in the name of the art, but also and above all in the name of the Faith. Today an attack [against sacred art] is being made that is even worse than the iconoclast heresy, because it strikes the roots of Christianity with the axe. Communism is radically combating the spiritual conception of life, even in the realm of sacred art. Artists and scholars write to me denouncing this new anti-Christian onslaught. Picasso is a communist, and, according to the words of the poet Claudel, he [Picasso] sacrilegiously assaults the human figure, made in the image and likeness of God: vir imago et gloria Dei (1 Cor 11: 7).”

A criminal Christ painted by Rouault

A criminal Christ by Rouault resents everyone
Not so long ago in a public debate on modern art, a Catholic journalist gave the title of prophet to this same Picasso. If he is a prophet, it is a prophet of the anti-church of modern art inspired by the Devil, who his disciples try to introduce into the holy places.

Cardinal Constantini adds: “Sacred painting is in itself a liturgy. We must be convinced that it is a blasphemy to deform the image of God who became man, to distort Him, and to give the Incarnate Word a sinister, idiotic or criminal physiognomy.”

He further states: “Anyone who visits expositions of [modern] art, even sacred art, can see with disgust how so many artists have portrayed Christ, the Virgin and the Saints as repugnant human types with apelike or imbecile aspects that make them look like they belong in madhouses.”

This is the case of the proletarian Christ of José Clemente Orozco, a Mexican socialist painter. Here the revolted Christ takes an axe to the Cross and raises his fist to declare his new role as the awakened proletariat. The French Fauvist George Rouault makes the same kind of attack against Christ and the Holy Virgin in his Miserere series. This is also the case of that ridiculous St. Francis in the Church of Pampulha made by the Brazilian Communist painter Candido Portinari.

It is not just a question of lack of conformity with the liturgy. Such art should be seen as an action of the Devil, and we should rise up against it with more vigor than against spoken blasphemies, since the blasphemies of art have a much longer life. This can be inferred from these words of the same Cardinal:

“Once a man possessed by a legion of devils presented himself to Christ. He asked to be cured and argued that the devils wanted to be sent to other bodies. Christ freed the possessed man and the devils entered a herd of pigs. Today a certain Christian art is possessed by the Devil and we should make an exorcism over it. Where the devils will go is not our concern. We must shout out - Fore canes [Out of the Church, dogs!] - as the Apocalypse (22:15) affirms, and close the doors of our temples to the blasphemers of Christian art.”

Confirming our position in previous articles where we exposed the Satanism behind modern art, Cardinal Celso Constantini affirms his suspicions of Abstract Art and, in no uncertain terms, warns the faithful against it. We had alerted our readers about its Gnostic roots nurtured by the occult and theosophist sects. He also cautions us:

Candido Portinari paints a ridiculous St. Francis

St. Francis with imbecile features by Portinari
“Some persons tried to bring to our churches a non-figurative art, that is, a display of lines and colors, the so-called Abstract Art… However, the faithful do not want to look at lines and a contrast of colors; they want to pray before sacred images.

“Christianity is the religion of incarnation. It represented an immense progress with regard to the art of Israel and the Islam. Jesus Christ lived as Man among us and we want to see His Divine Humanity. The non-figurative art reminds us of the heresy of Docetism where the bodily reality of Christ was denied.”

Now then, what is Docetism if not one of the many disguises of Gnosticism and Manichaeism that manifests itself in hatred of matter and of humanity? That old tendency resurges today in magic, the false Eastern mystics and a religious syncretism with a pantheistic bend. This tendency is present in modern art, either in its “constructive” side, the flight from reality that Abstractionism makes, or in its “destructive” side, the deformations and repellent presentation of human nature made by Surrealism.

Accordingly, modern sacred art falsifies the representation of Our Divine Savior either by presenting Him as an abstract or pneumatic glorious Christ, or as a caricature of His humanity. In both cases, we see Gnosis infiltrating modern art.

Thus we find that sacred art abandons its position as “servant of the liturgy,” as Pius XII so beautifully defined it, to be a tool of the Revolution used to subvert the plan of salvation established by Our Lord and to implant the kingdom of darkness.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Published in Catolicismo April 1954
Translated and adapted by TIA desk
Posted September 19, 2011

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