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Blessed and Beautiful: Picturing the Saints in Italian Renaissance Art

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Catholic Herald describes Robert J. Kiely’s book Blessed and Beautiful: Picturing the Saints as “simply one of the best books ever written about Christian art.”

On Tuesday, March 20 Kiely, the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English, Emeritus, at Harvard University, will discuss his book in a talk presented by USD’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture.

The 2010 book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the lives of the saints and images of them painted by Renaissance artists in Italy. Kiely, a distinguished scholar of modernist literature and a historian and critic of exceptional sensibility, has a keen eye and uncanny ability to capture details of significance and to prompt the reader to look again and to see with fresh eyes that the lives of the saints and the Renaissance depictions of them are anything but dull, uniform or narrowly orthodox.

His beautifully written and thoughtful book treats saints seriously as human religious figures (not icons of perfection), brought to life by great Italian paintings in dialogue with scripture, legend and poetry.

Kiely’s talk takes place at 6 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre. A reception will follow the talk. To attend the free event, RSVP to or call (619) 260-7936.

– Liz Harman

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