Art for Worship and Ritual

     Religious institutions around the world have found ways to incorporate artists` creativity into their sacred rituals, place, and ceremonies, using art to aid and enhance religious contemplation. One of the most important Roman Catholic theologians from the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas, wrote the function of art as an aid to religious teaching, “It is befitting Holy Scripture to put forward divine and spiritual truths by means of comparisons with material things. For God provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature. It is natural for man to be pleased with representations.”

     A testament to the aid of art in worship, we look toward the earliest stained glass windows in churches, designed to communicate biblical teachings through images, before reading was common among men and women.

     Artwork can raise the viewer’s understanding of intelligible truths. In the Zen school of Buddhism, followers are taught that they may reach enlightenment, a state of spiritual insight, by solitary meditation that cleanses the mind and empties it of distractions. A clear example would be, the nearly barren Rock Garden at Ryoan-ji temple near Kyoto in Japan, is well-known aid to such contemplation.


Frank, P., & Preble, D. (2011). Prebles’ artforms (11th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Prentice Halll.