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Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Fine Arts in the Dominican Tradition

The liturgy expresses the beauty of the communion with Him ..., the beauty of a harmony which translates into gestures, symbols, words, images and melodies that touch the heart and the spirit and raise marvel and the desire to meet the resurrected Lord, He who is the Door of Beauty."  Pontifical Council for Culture

Most often when considering St. Thomas Aquinas our thoughts alight on his written works, such as his commentaries on Sacred Scripture, the Summa Contra Gentiles, or more likely the Summa Theologiae.

It is less common for us to consider St. Thomas through the lens of art. In fact, our initial reaction might be a quick sideways glance as to whether there is any relevance. But such a position would betray a fundamental ignorance not only about St. Thomas but also about the Dominican Order. 

The motto of the Dominican Order is Veritas, Truth. And if anyone sought Truth with a vengeance it was St. Thomas. Yet one cannot consider the quest for Truth without also considering a quest for its close companions: Goodness and Beauty. It comes as no surprise, then, that Dominicans have been using the fine arts as a tool for preaching since the 13th century.

In line with this tradition, DSPT offers study opportunities which integrate the fine arts with philosophy and theology through three specific Areas of Concentration:

  • Religion and the Arts –  examining the cultural, historical, and philosophical role of art in society, with faculty specialization in film, visual art, and poetry
  • Sacred Arts – specializing in philosophical and theological foundations for the use of the fine arts in Catholic worship through sacred music and liturgical preaching
  • Aesthetics –  investigating the nature of beauty from philosophical and theological perspectives

As Plato is claimed to have said: "The splendor of truth is beauty." At DSPT we pursue the one who is the source not only of all Truth but also, as the Pontifical Council for Culture states, the Doorway to Beauty.