Pray, Love, Remember are Gospel imperatives that Archbishop Stack has suggested as the themes for art exhibitions in the Archdiocese, to be held during its Centenary year. Praying, loving and remembering are, or should be, the daily activities of all Christians. They are realised in various ways and particularly in liturgical celebrations, particularly of the sacraments. They are realised, par excellence, in the Action of the Mass, when the faithful gather in prayer to remember Christ’s great sacrifice of love and His command “Do this in memory of me.” From the very beginning of Christianity the arts have been intimately involved in the celebration of Mass and other liturgies. An obvious example of this is the use of psalms, which are a combination of music and poetry.
The use of visual art by the Church is also very ancient. Though there are difficulties in finding evidence for visual art from the very beginning of the Church (it is unlikely that there would have been much opportunity to create significant, surviving, art in early, post-apostolic, times), there are very early examples of frescoes dating from c 250 AD (in the so-called House Church of Dura Europos) and a little later in some of the catacombs. After the Edict of Milan in 313, and during the reign of Constantine the Great, the church was able to become a significant patron (and censor) of the arts. This patronage (and censorship) has continued – not without being challenged at times – until the present day.
It seems very appropriate, therefore, for the Archbishop to include visual art in celebrations of the centenary of the Archdiocese. There are various ways in which this can be enabled. It is planned that an exhibition will be held in the Cathedral in April and, later, in the Cornerstone. The acclaimed Welsh artist, Kevin Sinnott has generously agreed to provide a painting for an exhibition in December. Various other artists are being contacted to they would be willing to lend a piece. Several people, including Dr Clare Smith, exhibitions manager at the National Museum of Wales, and Dr Ayla Lepine, of the University of Essex, have already agreed to give talks and/or take part in discussions if suitable dates can be arranged. It is hoped that a display of, “The history of the Archdiocese in a hundred objects” can be arranged. These activities will be happening centrally but parishes, schools and various organisations will be encouraged to hold various related ‘art’ events locally. During this centenary year, if people respond to the invitation, Praying, Remembering, Loving can be experienced in the context of art.