Christian Art and Its Meaning

Seeing Salvation

Adoration of the Shepherds Detail Hugo van der Goes

Adoration of the Shepherds
Hugo van der Goes

Visual arts have their own language, and while labels identify, they do not explain. Symbolism is that international language. It permits one to identify and understand art at a deeper level. Symbolism expands the soul and takes the viewer beyond the frame to a new experience of the art, the artist’s purpose and history, and moves one into the unspoken language of the symbol. With new eyes on art, go beyond the frame.

Paul Tillich  in his work Dynamics of Faith states that

a symbol points beyond itself and invites us to that to which it points.


This workshop addresses the question of how Christian art conveys meaning beyond the obvious.  By extracting the symbolism within each work it will attempt to bring the viewer to a deeper religious level.

Many people remain unaware of the symbols of our faith beyond the obvious.  We have become less able to recognize the subjects and meaning of religious art. This is because symbols always point to the transcendent.  With faith they link what is human with what is divine.

Christian art has a dictionary of symbols which furnishes insights necessary for understanding the full message of religious art, both past and present. It is time to rediscover this “lost language.”

This workshop  gives an overview of how symbolism is integrated into religious art. Divided into three sessions participants will view:

  • The Art of Early ChristianityThe Girlhood of the Virgin Mary by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1848
  • The Symbolism of Mary
  • The Symbolism of the Saints

A limited bibliography will be distributed prior to the sessions and there will be time for questions and answers.