One of the initiatives organised as part of the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church, which runs from 11 October 2012 until November 24th 2013 is an exhibition which opens today at Castel Sant’ Angelo, Rome, just down from the ancient circus where St Peter was martyred and buried, now St Peter’s Basilica and the piazza in front of it. The exhibition looks at the life of St Peter through art and music down the ages.
In a press conference to launch the exhibition, Archbishop Reni Fisichella outlined the context and motivation behind the exhibition, to some extent echoing the reasons behind the year of faith outlined by Pope Benedict in Porta Fidei in 2011. He explained that faith is not something just for a committed group of believers, but also an expression of humanity’s need to understand the desire for God.He described a general feeling of fatigue and indifference that affects faith today, which makes it seem limited to a small group of persons and without wider appeal, and in addition, the growth of enthusiasm for scientific progress and new lifestyles leading to the idea that it is good to limit faith to the private sphere. At the same time, however, he noted ” it is easy to see that the desire to enjoy the beauty of nature and works of art is constantly increasing.” People are searching for something profound, and a beauty that is lasting. Works of art, the fruit of a different age provide a means for many to explore faith through culture.
Fisichella noted that the life of the first Pope is a remarkable journey of faith, one for today’s humanity, which seeks, finds and having found follows. The exhibition, as outlined in the press release, presents faith as an enchanted response to an encounter, to the provocation of God, who always makes the first move, through bewilderment, disorientation and the shattering of certainties to the warmth of brotherhood and fellowship and the transformation of the person, who, in him or herself, becomes an artistic masterpiece.
The exhibition has gathered together works from many different museums and collections in several different countries, some seen for the first time. They range from the 5th through until the beginning of the 20th century. George de la Tour’s ‘The Liberation of Peter’ from Berlin (above) is included alongside works by Lorenzo Veneziano, Gerrit van Honthorst, Guido Reni and Marco Basaiti, which narrate different episodes in the life of St Peter. The exhibition is open until May.