The Legacy of Fra Angelico
Blessed John of Fiesole, O.P., a Dominican, is the patron saint of artists and the first artist to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. Born in 1400 in Fiesole, and baptized Guido di Piero, he was already a painter when he took the Dominican habit and became a member of the Order of Preachers in the early 15th century. Following the Dominican custom of taking a new name, he became Fra Giovanni da Fiesole.
Fra Giovanni was respected by his Order, and served as prior, subprior and syndic in Fiesole. He was a leading figure in the reform of religious life and the Church during this time. He was also a renowned artist, most famous for the frescoes he created at San Marco in Florence and in the papal chapel next to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
Fra Angelico was a man who demonstrated the profound connection between artistic beauty and the search for spiritual meaning.
Fra Angelico is often considered to be the last great painter of the High Middle Ages and the first great painter of the Renaissance. A transitional figure who combined the theological and spiritual richness of the Dominican/Thomistic tradition with the new forms of painting and expression that would flower in the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico was both an artist and preacher of the gospel. He was a man who demonstrated the profound connection between artistic beauty and the search for spiritual meaning. He died in 1455. Thereafter, the poet Fra Domenico da Corrella called him an “angelic” painter, and he has been called Fra “Angelico” ever since. In 1984, Pope John Paul II authorized February 18 as his feast day.
Drawing upon this heritage of Fra Angelico, Windows to the Divine® invites all peoples to acknowledge and articulate the close unity between art and spirituality. Through the visual modern day arts, we hope to inspire all art lovers to reflect upon the connections between art and the broader spiritual journey of individuals, communities and cultures.