Finding beauty among evil

Aparecida in Brazil

Meeting Claudio Pastro, the renowned Brazilian artist and architect, during my recent visit to Brazil for the Communion of International Benedictine Women’s Conference, was a once-in-a-life time experience, writes Clare Condon SGS.

-The Good Oil

Claudio acted as our personal guide as we explored the interior of the remarkable Basilica of Aparecida. In 1999, Claudio was asked by the then Cardinal of Aparecida, Aloisio Lorscheider, to 'think about the completion of the interior of the Basilica of Aparecida,' which is located halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Basilica had been commissioned in the 1940s but never completed internally. After 14 years of extraordinary creativity, imagination and theological reflection, an interior of supreme post-modern beauty has emerged.

As he gently and evocatively introduced us to these works of art, Claudio shared his own faith and spirituality and a profound knowledge of Scripture and Church history based on his own study and his daily practice of lectio divina. Through the medium of line and colour, he has given future generations an exquisite story and catechesis of the Christian faith.

So what was it that made this experience so significant for me? The Basilica is a place of pure beauty; it’s described as a 'theophanic place, a God place.' As the brochure says:

'It is a mystogogic place for its forms and colours, its materials, its celebrations, songs and prayers; its very walls lead us to the centre of the Mystery that we celebrate and contemplate, Jesus Christ, in order to nurture us wholly: spirit, body and soul. The structure of the Basilica differs from the world outside for it is a sacred place and its main function is to manifest the gratuity of life, gift of God. This space unites Heaven and Earth.'

This experience of mine was a contrast to so much of what is happening in our world at present. Much of this is ugly, dark, violent and polluted. I recall just a few examples. In Australia, there is the rejection and demonisation of refugees. In Brazil, there is the extreme poverty of so many citizens, the trafficking of homeless children and the street violence in cities like São Paulo. We read about political corruption in so many so-called Christian countries. In Syria, there is the genocide and hatred that has resulted in civil war. In Japan, there is the contamination of the Fukushima nuclear plant. And in so many of the world’s cities, there are the grey and dark concrete jungles where the din of constant noise and the drive to survive leaves little time or space to experience simple beauty.

FULL STORY Seeking to bring beauty into being

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