“The prophetic task of art – to show Mercy” – Bishop Jacek Grzybowski

Culture devoid of references to Transcendence becomes empty, losing measure and meaning. Christianity without culture becomes mute – unable to understand itself or to pass this understanding on to others. It is worth the effort to stop this divorce, which is potentially fatal for Christianity and culture – said Bishop Jacek Grzybowski with reference to the image of the Divine Mercy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Christianity and art converge on many fundamental issues. Their reverence unites themes of truth, goodness, beauty and freedom. They unite in reverence for truth, goodness, beauty and freedom, connected in the admiration for every form of God’s epiphany, bringing us closer to a sense of order hidden inside and beyond what is visible. To the great detriment of Christianity and art, the convergence weakened significantly, which in the past resulted in incredible works of spiritual culture. Is this process irreversible? I don’t think so. Culture devoid of references to Transcendence becomes empty, losing measure and meaning. Christianity without culture becomes mute – unable to understand itself or to pass this understanding on to others. It is worth the effort to stop this divorce, which is potentially fatal for Christianity and culture.

The Political Theology community has come up with the idea of a ​​renaissance within sacral Catholic painting. It is not difficult to accept such an idea with great joy. The concept of inviting ten prominent artists to take on this extraordinary commission that Christ gave to St. Faustina Kowalska was welcomed with panache and courage. Contrary to all those who claimed that sacred art was a thing of the past, these outstanding artists took up the challenge, creating works – in my humble opinion – that are incredible, thought-provoking, theologically profound and exceedingly beautiful.

Starting this venture by painting one of the most famous images of Jesus described in Sister Faustina’s Diary I found particularly interesting. Undoubtedly, the most remarkable Polish individuals of the 20th century – St. Sr. Faustina Kowalska and St. John Paul II – showed us that the message and task for the 21st century is the most important religious idea of ​​our time: the power of Divine Mercy. Both the Polish mystic and pope made us realise the vital importance and significance of the truth that without God’s mercy, asking for it and its presence in the world has no salvation for either unrepentant sinners or the world.

I am very grateful to my colleagues from Political Theology for inviting the Warsaw-Praga Diocese to participate in this project. I thank all the great artists for your willingness to work with prof. Jarosław Modzelewski at the forefront. I would like to thank Father Jacek Hajnos, Beata Stankiewicz, Ignacy Czwartos, Wincenty Czwartos, Prof. Jacek Dłużewski, Wojciech Głogowski, Krzysztof Klimek, Bogna Podbielska and Artur Wąsowski. Your talent and sensitivity reveal the importance, strength and beauty of God’s Mercy.

Together with Bishop Romuald Kaminski, we wish that the works created as a part of the project to repaint Catholicism adorn the shrines of our diocese anew. Six of ten paintings presented at this exhibition have been reserved by priests moved by their artistic power – priests who understand the importance of this unprecedented project that will allow the next generation of Christians to encounter the message of the Divine Mercy. I am pleased by such a promising beginning. I would like to thank my fellow priests for their openness, imagination and courage to allow outstanding contemporary art past the thresholds of our temples, which is so rare today.

I am full of hope that this beautiful convergence of art and religion, the Church and artists,  heralds further extraordinary spiritual and artistic events. I say this with the knowledge that we are accountable for this work. Artistic patronage – of art that is beautiful, wise and deep because, through their creative vision, they show God’s great work, is the unquestionable duty of the Church. We will do our best to fulfil this mission within our abilities and strengths.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to those who have undertaken painting Catholicism anew —first, the great artists. Second, the institutions that conceived and implemented the project: The St. Nicholas Foundation, the editors Political Theology and St. John Paull II Institute of Culture from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, colloquially called Angelicum. Third, to the priests who pledged to buy the paintings. They are: Rev. Krzysztof Cyliński, Rev. Witold Gajda, Rev. Andrzej Kuflikowski, Rev. Ryszard Ładziński, Rev. Emil Owczarek, Rev. Krzysztof Ukleja, Rev. Sławomir Żarski. Expressions of admiration and gratitude for the project’s patrons: Danuta and Krzysztof Domarecki, Jolanta and Mirosław Gruszka, Wojciech Piasecki, and Dorota and Tomasz Zdziebkowski. Last but not least – thank you to the Dominican fathers, whose hospitality allowed the possibility of showing the first public presentation of ten new images of Divine Mercy.

Bishop Jacek Grzybowski