Powerful pictures should make more than headlines

VATICAN CITY — It was to have hands and be able to touch and heal people that Christ became human, Pope Francis has said.

Pope greets man with disability after Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greeting a man with a disability after celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“God meddles in our miseries, he approaches our wounds and heals them with his hands; it was to have hands he became man.”

“God does not save us only by decree, with a law, he saves us with tenderness, he saves us with caresses, he saves us with his life given for us.”

Pope Francis Oct. 22 homily

Pope Francis' General Audience

Pope Francis embracing a man at the Nov. 6 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Claudio Peri, EPA)

This passage seemed appropriate to accompany the pictures of Pope Francis embracing and kissing a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder resulting in numerous, often painful, tumors.

The gesture at yesterday’s general audience has grabbed people’s attention, as well as news headlines.

But, every time we are struck by such poignant and moving movements, we should also consider something else the pope has said.

Pope visits St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro

Pope Francis greeting a young man as he visits St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro July 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The people behind the picture aren’t just an image to be digested and forgotten with the next news cycle; they are people who need to be heard every day:

“In the people we find the wounds of Jesus. Jesus hidden in the Eucharist and Jesus hidden in these wounds. They need to be heard!

Maybe not so much in newspapers as news; there they take notice for one, two, three days, then something else comes up, and another thing. The wounds should be heard by those who call themselves Christian.

Pope Francis meeting with children Oct. 4 in Assisi

As gestures often communicate more powerfully than words, we’re sharing some of our favorite Francis moments and inviting people to think about the message: What is it that needs to be heard and then lived?

Pope embraces young woman during encounter with youth in Cagliari, Sardinia

Pope Francis embraces a young woman during an encounter with youth in Cagliari, Sardinia, Sept. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets people in wheelchairs after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets people in wheelchairs after celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets woman during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets a woman during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope leads Benediction during vigil to pray for peace in Syria

Pope Francis leading Benediction during a vigil to pray for peace in Syria Sept. 7 in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses boy during visit to slum complex in Brazil

Pope Francis blessing a boy in the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro July 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope greets young man after spin in popemobile chair during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets Alberto di Tullio, 17, after letting him sit and spin around in the popemobile chair during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Child waves a flag as Pope Francis arrives at the Caritas residence in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi

A child waves a flag as Pope Francis arrives at the Caritas residence in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi Oct. 4. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Francis embraces emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo

Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI embracing at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, March 23. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis kisses foot of prisoner at prison for minors in Rome

Pope Francis kisses the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility March 28. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis poses with youths during meeting with young people in St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican

Pope Francis during a meeting with young people from the northern Italian diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio in St. Peter’s Basilica Aug. 28. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis touches the head of a child during special event for families in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis touches the head of a child during a Year of Faith celebration of the family in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 26. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis I leads prayer as he appears for first time on balcony of St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis bowing and asking people to pray for him after he appeared for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after his election March 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

How art is saving art

By Caroline Hroncich

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Inside the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran during the International Festival of Music and Sacred Art (CNS Photo courtesy of Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra)

VATICAN CITY–The sound of haunting “Glorias!” billowed through the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome Nov. 4 as the Orchestra and Choir of Naples’ Teatro San Carlo performed Nino Rota’s Mysterium. The basilica was packed, but you could barely hear the audience breathe during the piece. Classical music lovers and artists alike will tell you there are few experiences better than listening to a piece performed live, and the “Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra” has been making this a reality for 12 years now.

The International Festival of Sacred Music and Art, sponsored by the foundation, brings live performances to the four papal basilicas in Rome, as well as other important churches in the city. The foundation, started in 2002 by Hans-Albert Courtial, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of sacred music and art. The concerts, occurring throughout October and November, are meant to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these sacred treasures.

With supporters like retired Pope Benedict XVI, the foundation has a wide-reaching presence in Rome and has helped fund restoration projects, including the Vatican Necropolis, the Chapel of Sixtus V, and the Borghese statue of Pope Paul V.

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Inside the Papal Basilica Saint Paul Outside the Walls during the International Festival of Music and Sacred Art (CNS Photo courtesy of Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra)

In a booklet about the initiative, foundation president Courtial says the purpose of the festival is “to move people’s hearts through music, inviting them at the same time to actively take on responsibility for important restorations of Christian art, whether they involve painting, sculpture or architecture. Our motto has therefore been from the outset: ‘Art saves art.’”

Listening to sacred music in a papal basilica is an incredibly spiritual experience, and is definitely something you don’t want to miss. All of the concerts are free and open to the public. For more information on how to attend future events follow this link.

Editor’s note: Caroline Hroncich is a student at Villanova University and is interning at Catholic News Service’s Rome bureau for the semester.

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