Lenten Companions: Blessed Fra Angelico, OP
Blessed Fra Angelico, OP was born Guido da Vicchio near Florence, Italy in 1386 or 1387. At a young age he entered the Dominicans at their priory in Fiesole with his brother, Benedetto. Little is known about his personal life or priestly ministry. He is known instead for his remarkable frescoes and altarpieces. It is said that St. Antoninus, OP, said of Fra Angelico's work, "No one could paint like that without first having been to heaven."
Blessed Fra Angelico is an excellent Lenten companion because of his masterful works depicting the sufferings and triumph of Christ. His images of the crucifixion include images of Dominican saints standing by or even embracing the Cross. This is an invitation for the viewer to insert himself or herself into the scene, experiencing the moment in a manner that brings us closer to Christ and His Mother and the saints. Many of his finest works can still be seen today in the convent of San Marco (now a museum) and in Fiesole.
It is said that Fra Angelico did not use human models for his art, but painted instead with the eye of a theologian. His motto was, "To paint Christ, one must live Christ." So may we too live the passion and ultimate resurrection of Christ, in order to bring Him closer to our brothers and sisters in every state of life.