The Church’s gifts to civilisation

Art & architecture

St Peter's Basilica nave and dome by Michelangelo

Faith in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh and the Sacrifice of the Mass have been the founding principles of extraordinary Catholic contributions to art and architecture. These contributions include: the great basilicas of ancient Rome; the work of Giotto (d 1337), who initiated a realism in painting the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, which helped to inspire three-dimensional art and drama; the invention of one-point linear perspective by Brunelleschi (d 1446) and the great works of the High Renaissance. The latter include the works of Blessed Fra Angelico (d 1455), today the patron saint of art, and the unrivalled work of Leonardo da Vinci (d 1519), Raphael (d 1520), Caravaggio (d 1610), Michelangelo (d 1564) and Bernini (d 1680). Many of the works of these artists, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, are considered among the greatest works of art of all time. Catholic civilisation also founded entire genres, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil and the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona show that the faith continues to be an inspiration for highly original art and architecture.

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