Regular Faculty

Fr. Michael Morris, OP

DSPT Professor - Fr. Michael Morris, OP

Professor of Religion & the Arts

Office Location: East 209
Phone: 510-883-2075
Office Hours: by appointment



BFA, University of Southern California; BA, MDiv, St. Albert College; MA, PhD, University of California, Berkeley.


Art is the beauty of truth, the shadow of divine perfection; it is that material thing that brings us to the immaterial. It inspires us, it leads us, it teaches us and even scares us. Theology is not just a science to be rationalized; there is beauty to be seen. What I do here completes people, by showing that art, like creation, is multidimensional - there is no limit to beauty.

Fr. Michael trains his students to develop an understanding of religious art as the key to a deeper understanding of theology. For him, it is an important and pleasurable quest to experience in religious studies the beauty that radiates from truth. Fr. Michael's teaching method is the classic lecture style with visual aids accompanied by discussion. He offers his students a multidimensional approach to understanding religious themes in all expressions of art. Fr. Michael is also the director of the Santa Fe Institute, a private research center with a library of 12,000 volumes devoted to Religion and the Arts. For over ten years he has been a regular art essayist for the monthly devotional booklet "Magnificat."

Courses Taught:

Research Interests:

Fr. Michael Morris is currently working on a number of writing and research projects. At the forefront is Summa Cinematica, discovering the religious themes found in film in a systematic and categorical way inspired by Thomas Aquinas. He is also in the process of publishing his dissertation Cowled Creatures: the Image of the Monk in Georgian and Victorian England, and is doing research on artists who've created signature chapels. His academic interests are: Art History; Film; Pop Culture; Myth and Legend.

Selected Publications:

  • Madam Valentino: The Many Lives of Natacha Rambova. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1991. Order page.
Articles and Chapters
  • “The Woman Behind the Myth; The Artistic Influence of Natacha Rambova in the Creation of a Hollywood Icon”. In Rodolfo Valentino: Cinema, Cultura, Societa tra Italia e Stati Uniti negli Anni Venti, edited by Silvio Alovisio and Giulia Carluccio, sponsored by the University of Turin in conjunction with the National Museum of Film, Turin, Italy. Torino, Kaplan, 2012.
  • “Noble Consort: Saint Joseph in Pre-Raphaelite Painting.” In Saint Joseph of Nazareth. Philadelphia: St. Joseph University Press, 2011.
  • "A Painter’s Magnificat: Friedrich Overbeck’s Triumph of Religion in the Arts." In On Pilgrimage with Magnificat. New York: Magnificat USA, 2008.
  • Magnificat USA, numerous articles including:
    • "The Immaculate Conception," (December 2012),
    • "The Guardian Angels," (October 2012),
    • "The Vision of Saint Bernard," (August 2012),
    • "Mass of St. Gregory," (June 2012),
    • "St. Mark Enthroned," (April 2012),
    • "The Nagasaki Martyrs," (February 2012),
    • "St. Jude Thaddeus,"(October 2011),
    • "St. Jerome," (September 2011),
    • "Holy Kinship," (July 2011),
    • "Saints Domitilla, Nereus and Achilleus," (May 2011).
  • "Previewing Mel Gibson's Passion." New Oxford Review (February 2004).
Other Publications and Events
Public Lectures
Short Essays