Wednesday, October 9, 2002

From the NYTimes: How an amazingly rich Catholic-centered exhibit of Spanish art ended up at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine and further, why hardly anyone is coming to see it:

Among the works in the ambulatory at the back of the cathedral at Amsterdam Avenue and West 112th Street are a remarkable painting of St. Sebastian by El Greco from the cathedral in Palencia; an unusual work by Goya from a convent in Valladolid; a painting by a noted Flemish artist from the tiny village of Castrojeriz; early examples of polychrome statues, richly enameled caskets, ivory statues and notable examples of Castilian art from the Romanesque to the Baroque.

There are also six early Bibles, including one printed by Gutenberg, as well as original letters and diaries by St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila, two of Spain's most famous Roman Catholic saints, all presented in a context that is deeply religious.

...Bishop Arias, a Spanish-born auxiliary bishop in Newark, confirmed that several Catholic churches were approached. "All of them said it would be impossible because they have daily religious activities, they don't even have an ambulatory at the back of the main altar, and their pews are fixed," he said. "And none of them could simply close down for two months."As it happened, St. John the Divine, by far the largest cathedral in New York, and said to be the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, was available for an autumn exhibition, even if it meant emptying five of its seven chapels. Although it came with only six months' notice, the offer from Spain seemed a perfect fit for a church that has a long history of supporting the arts, and of sustaining a tradition of ecumenicism.

Read the entire article - it's very interesting, especially concerning the Spanish Church's support for the arts.

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