Amazing Monks: Celebrating a Great Patrimony

by Michael Potemra


In a remarkable coincidence I never noticed before, two Churches today celebrate the feasts of monks who made a great difference in the world beyond the cloister.

The Roman Catholic calendar today honors Fra Angelico (c.1395-1455), a member of the Dominican order who was also one of the greatest figures in the history of world art. (This webpage at the Web Gallery of Art has links to many of his works. Just start clicking on them, and you may be captivated for hours. If you don’t know the Web Gallery, by the way, you’re in for a treat. It is for art generally what IMDB is for movies, with this difference: On the Web Gallery, you can look at all the works instead of reading about them.)

And this same day, the U.S. Episcopal Church calendar honors an Augustinian monk born just 28 years after Fra Angelico’s death: Martin Luther, who set in motion the Protestant Reformation, which, like Fra Angelico’s work in the studio, had results of lasting benefit to the whole world. Among these results was the dissent of certain oppressed groups, who were so dissatisfied with religious conditions in their own country that they crossed an ocean and ended up founding another — one that now stands for the world as a beacon of religious liberty. 

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