Saturday, 13 January 2007

Roman Catechetics

Most Anglo-Saxon priests work in churches that are no more than 150 years old. Many are beautiful - some are very beautiful indeed - but they rarely equal the splendour of the churches you find in Italy. I've sometimes wondered what I would do if I was the Rector of a church in Rome, surrounded by beautiful frescoes, the odd Bernini monument and centuries (even millennia) of history. How could one best use these priceless resources to spread the Faith in a secular age?

Part of the answer was provided by my visit yesterday to one of my favourite churches in the Eternal City - the Basilica of SS Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso (the Milanese Church). In a side chapel near the entrance was a selection of publications, available for a donation. These included books and - yes -DVDs about the art in the church. One book and DVD dealt with the church's paintings: not simply detailing the artist's name and the size of the frame but including 'catechetical notes' - thus, a portrait of Blessed Pius IX sparks off a reflection on Papal Infallibility and that of his predecessor, Innocent X, leads to a brief consideration of Jansenism (which he condemned in 1653). Another colourful book, supplemented by a DVD, is entitled Le Virtu in Simboli negli Affreschi - a magnificent catechesi in immagini looking at the virtues.

As I was leaving, I noticed a line of racks containing 33 'tracts' in each of the major languages. These cover key questions: the divinity of Christ, life after death, prayer and the sacraments, and the Church's teaching on abortion, euthanasia, marriage and homosexuality. This series appeared in 2005 and in the first year of publication over 800,000 copies were taken by visitors to the basilica. The Italian versions can be found here and they seem very informative.

These fantastic resources are the brain child of Mgr Raffaello Martinelli, an Officiale at the CDF (who was involved in the production of the recent Compendium) and the Primicerio of the Basilica. Perhaps we should imitate such projects in these cooler climes?



Blogger Fr Ray Blake said...

I got a whole selection of these really very good leaflets in English and have been using them in the parish. I think they are really excellent. So good they are available in different languages.

8:31 pm  
Blogger Mary Jane said...

(Second posting attempt - Blogger is out to get me this evening.) I shall have to add this church to the list for a visit during my trip to Rome in February. I do envy the English - just a hop over the Channel to all that art and history. (Of course, we have Disney World here in Florida. Not quite the same, is it?)

1:05 am  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Yes, we are lucky. In fact, next month I'm hoping to go to Paris by Eurostar for my day-off. And we even have a bit of art and history this side of the Channel, if you look hard enough.

11:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know this is slightly off-topic--but it is related--can I 'dare' you (or readers?) to post a selection of what you think are the best English resources online for catechesis?


11:45 am  

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