Wednesday, July 20, 2016

R.I.P. Fr Michael Morris, O.P.

It was with sadness that I learned of the death on Friday of Fr Michael Morris, O.P., after an illness. For many years he has been a great advocate for beauty in sacred art and the culture, whose interests ranged from the aesthetics of St Thomas and traditional Christian iconography to Hollywood movie posters. Whatever the subject, he was always in a position to tell me exactly how the Dominican order has a hand in shaping what is good in the world! Many will know of his writing through his monthly art reviews in the Magnificat magazine.

I first met him  in 2001 when I turned up at his office in Berkeley, California, looking for help and advice about transforming Catholic culture. I was a complete unknown who had read St John Paul II’s Letter to Artists, and had set off for America armed with a few poorly formed ideas and plenty of passion, but very little else. He was kind enough to take the time to listen to this odd stranger hammering on his door out of the blue, and offered encouragement and wise advice. He was also very amusing and great company!

We had been in touch ever since, and I saw him only 10 days ago. Although obviously suffering, he still just wanted to talk about art and a course he was planning to teach for the DSPT, the Dominican School in Berkeley next year, and to introduce me to an artist friend of his. The program at the GTU in Berkeley, Religion and the Arts, which he devoted so much time to, is known internationally.

When I saw him we spoke, as we always did, of praying daily to Blessed Fra Angelico, the great and holy Dominican artist as our chosen patron of the mission of to transform the culture. I pray to him now also in remembrance of Fr Michael.

He will be missed by many.

Blessed Fra Angelico’s Virgin and Child with Saints

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: