Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Salt of the Earth

Staggeringly beautiful Catholic sacred art and church architectural forms carved into the rock by miners in an ancient salt mine in Poland.

Thank you to a reader for bringing to my attention these staggering pictures of a salt mine in the town of Wieliczka, near Krakow. The mine, which closed in 1996, contains amazing art and architectural structures fashioned out the rock salt as it was mined. The miners created chapels in the caverns, one even large enough to be considered a cathedral-size basilica. I have no information as to where the artistic talent came from. It is amazing, if it was simply just the miners doing this in their spare time. Even the chandeliers are carved out of rock salt!

It is now a tourist attraction which receives thousands of visitors each year. It is apparent from the photos that it is available for hire for functions… how about a destination wedding!

Once again, this demonstrates that when you have authentic devotion and the willingness to create beauty for the greater glory of God, then wonderful things can happen. The only reason that contemporary culture is not a beautiful culture is that there is not the will to create one and devote resources to it. This is not something that should be seen as a relic of a past era that we cannot recreate today.

Over the years, along my way to becoming an artist, I spoke to several people whom I trusted about the discernment of my personal vocation. What was interesting was that in considering my situation, none asked me what seemed to be the obvious question: “How good are you at painting and drawing?” Years later, I asked one them, my teacher Aidan Hart, (who is coming the US to speak at the Scala Foundation conference in Princeton, NJ, this spring) why this was. He told me that the skills of painting and drawing can be learned by anyone if they apply themselves enough. The main criterion for being able to create beautiful art, he said, was to love God, and to love creating art that gives glory to Him.

Judging by this criterion, I would say that it is apparent that these miners loved God.

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