Why Statues, Art Are Important in Churches

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”
Benjamin Disraeli

Do you remember Benjamin Disraeli?  I’ll bet not.  One reason, of course, is that he’s a former British prime minister, and most readers of this blog are American.

So — do you remember Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce?  Probably not.  They were U.S. presidents, but you almost never see their pictures.  And they are lost to the dustbin of history.

One more:  Do you remember St. Francis of Assisi?  St. Josemaria Escriva?  St. Charles Borromeo?  Our Lady of Guadalupe?

Of course you do.  You can see their picture or a statute of them in many if not most  Catholic churches.  And when I mention their name, that image immediately comes to mind.

I was talking with a young woman who is on the journey from the Baptist faith recently, and when I mentioned St. Francis, she immediately brightened and said:  “Oh, yes!  Birds and a deer in the background.”

Many if not most Protestants think statues and images in Catholic churches and homes borders on idolatry.  But the truth is, they serve as a constant reminder of the presence of God.

Modern marketing science has found the Catholic Church is correct on this, as on so many things.  It turns out when we can associate a human face or an animal with a brand, we are much more likely to buy that brand.

Likewise, when we can associate a saint’s image with a virtue, we are much more likely to remember and to practice that virtue.

About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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