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    The Catholic Culture Podcast: Episode 60

    Jan 8, 2020

    Princeton University recently hosted and funded a very Catholic
    event as part of its annual Being Human Festival. It was a
    several-hour program dedicated to representations of St. Cecilia in
    poetry, painting and music, exploring how a conversation between
    these art forms can stir us to wonder and the contemplation of the
    Divine. The day’s events included singing the Salve Regina and a
    dinner in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast it was.

    In the first part of this episode, Thomas and co-host James
    Majewski lead a roundtable discussion in which event organizer Joe
    Perez-Benzo, painter Andrew de Sa, and singer Emily de Sa look back
    at the event and its humanizing/evangelizing effects on
    participants. Joe explains how he was able to have an explicitly
    Catholic event funded by an Ivy League university, and offers
    suggestions as to how other Catholics can replicate this success
    wherever God has placed them.

    In part two, Andrew de Sa and poet James Matthew Wilson have fun
    reflecting on an unexpected occurrence in which one of Andrew’s
    paintings inspired a poem by James, which in turn inspired Andrew’s
    painting of St. Cecilia (unveiled at the Princeton event). The
    artists only became aware of this mutual inspiration after the

    Part I

    • Overview of the festival and the event’s concept [4:32]
    • The religious demographics of the event [12:33]
    • The combination of poems and paintings holding audience
      attention [15:32]
    • Singing in a secular space filled with sacred art and the
      dynamic of the visual elements in conjunction with song
    • Andrew’s feelings around unveiling his new painting for the
      event [20:04]
    • Joe’s experience reading Latin classics at the places they
      describe or sites of their composition—ways of overcoming the
      modern isolation of works of art in a museum context [22:33]
    • Singing the Salve Regina in “mixed company” [27:25]
    • Getting the Princeton Humanities Council on board with the
      event, overcoming slight resistance [28:50]
    • Advice for hosting similar events in public spaces or at home
    • The involvement of the Carl Schmitt Foundation [40:12]
    • Emily de Sa and Ruth Swope perform ‘Jesu Sweet’ by Gustav Holst

    Part II

    • The providential influence between Andrew’s paintings and James
      Matthew Wilson’s poem [48:31]
    • Holding oneself open to inspiration and associations which can
      make an artwork more dense with meaning [54:46]
    • Theories of literary critics on the relevance of the artist’s
      intention to the viewer’s interpretation [57:17]
    • Distinguishing art forms in order to unite them [1:01:40]
    • Liturgy as the complete art from which the various art forms
      flow [1:05:44]

    Photos and video:

    Time lapse of Andrew de Sa painting his Flight into Egypt mural:

    That painting inspired these lines in James Matthew Wilson’s
    “Hasten To Aid Thy Fallen People”:

    But every rising strain must strain indeed

    To lend the form to what in truth is light,

    And manifest peace as if it’s a deed

    And give transcendence some arc of a flight.

    The purity of every saint

    Will be daubed on with sloppy paint,

    And what no thought may comprehend or say

    Must be taught in the staging of a play.

    Those lines inspired Andrew de Sa’s painting of St. Cecelia,
    unveiled at the Princeton event:

    Joe Perez-Benzo helps tourgoers enter into the mystery of the
    Incarnation as James Majewski looks on:

    Emily de Sa and Ruth Swope perform Holst’s Four Songs for
    Voice and Violin
    in the beautiful Princeton University Art

    Final panel with Joe Perez-Benzo, Emily de Sa and Andrew de



    Poetry which inspired Andrew de Sa’s St. Cecilia painting:

    Andrew and Emily de Sa’s website:

    Andrew de Sa on Instagram:

    James Matthew Wilson’s website:

    Being Human Festival: 

    John Dryden, Alexander’s Feast: 

    Carl Schmitt Foundation:

    James Matthew Wilson, The River of the Immaculate

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