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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