Bl. John of Fiesole (Fra Angelico)

The Annunciation (tempera on panel) by Angelico, Fra (Guido di Pietro) (c.1387-1455); Museo Diocesano, Cortona, Italy

The following is an excerpt from, “A Pale Light” by Br. Charles Shonk, O.P.

Bl. John of Fiesole, better known as Fra Angelico, was one of the great painters of the early Renaissance. Many people don’t realize, however, that he was also a Dominican friar, and a very holy friar, too.

He and his brother, Fra Benedetto, entered the Dominican Order in their mid-twenties. Both were already skilled artists. Although Benedetto produced some of the finest illuminated manuscripts in Europe, Angelico has always been the more famous of the two, being especially noted for the frescoes he painted at San Marco, the Dominican convent and church in Florence. Michelangelo, who lived a few generations later, positively revered Angelico and his work. He even carved a statue of the risen Christ to be placed by Angelico’s tomb and said of him, “He has gone to meet those whom he painted.”

Angelico was a tireless worker and finished a great number of paintings in his lifetime, but, thinking it would somehow be against God’s will, he never retouched or reworked any of them. He always prayed when he painted, and he would say, “To paint the things of Christ, one must live with Christ.”

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