Pope Benedict XVI often said that “art and the saints are the greatest apologetic of the faith.” This certainly rang true for me during a recent visit to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
I was not expecting this museum to house such masterpieces of the faith. A colleague of mine invited my wife and I to see the special exhibit Flesh and Blood from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, Italy. As we were waiting for our friend, my wife and I wandered the Kimbell art gallery, and the first three piece that I saw got me thinking about freedom in Christ. The three masterpieces were Duccio’s The Raising of Lazarus (1310), Michelangelo’s The Torment of St. Anthony (1487), and Fra Angelico’s The Apostle St. James the Major Freeing the Magician Hermogenes (1426). They manifested an apologetics of the faith that brought to mind Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”
Christ specifically frees us from sin and death. This is God’s will for us. The Catechism states, “[God’s] will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.” Sin and death cut us off from the divine nature, and the Gospels proclaim God’s great gift of elevating us to a divine nature through Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Most of us do not know what this freedom looks like, but we need look no further than the saints and great Christian art.