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Fra Angelico, portrait by Luca Signorelli

Feast of Blessed Fra Angelico

(1387 – 1455)

Bl. Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro in Tuscany, Italy.  Little is known of his early life, but he became a famous early Italian Renaissance master painter.  Fra Angelico would pray earnestly before he painted, being convinced that in order to paint Christ perfectly, one must also be Christlike.  His paintings then became tools for contemplating the theological mysteries hidden in the biblical events he depicted.

He joined the Dominican Order in 1407 and was given the name Brother John, often called “Angelic Brother John”, or Fra Angelico (Angelic Friar) because of his holiness.  He lived and worked in several friaries until moving to the Friary of San Marco in Florence.  While in Florence he was surrounded by an artistic community, and, due to his great talent, gained the patronage of the famous Medici family.

In 1445 he was summoned to Rome to work on St. Peter’s Basilica in various chapels.  From 1449 until shortly before his death, Fra Angelico was also prior of the convent in Fiesole.  He passed away while working again in Rome and is buried in the Dominican church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

Fra Angelico was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II and is the patron saint of Catholic artists.  His feast day is February 18.

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La Anunciación, 1430-1432, de Fra Angelico
La Anunciación, 1430-1432, de Fra Angelico, (The Annunciation by Fra Angelico)
The Crucifixion, tempera painting by Fra Angelico, possibly c. 1440; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.628), www. metmuseum.org

He who wishes to paint Christ’s story must live with Christ.”

Blessed Fra Angelico
self portrait
Portrait of Fra Angelico (self-portrait), 1387-1455, commissioned in the 1430s by Cosimo de Medici, a leading patron of the Italian Renaissance, for the high altar at the church and convent of San Marco in Florence, where Fra Angelico then lived.
fra angelico stained glass
Fra Angelico, stained glass

Fra Angelico’s painting was the fruit of the great harmony between a holy life and the creative power with which he had been endowed.”

Saint John Paul II, pope


Blessed Fra Angelico, Blessed Friar, Patron of Artists, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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