Religious art is a powerful tool in faith. It’s been used over the years as propaganda. It’s been used as a sign of wealth and prosperity. But more importantly than that, art can be a powerful meditative tool. Whenever I get “stuck” in prayer, I think about art. Because I teach art history, and handle paintings on a pretty regular basis, it’s a handy way for me to contemplate the deeper issues of faith and God. The imagery in these works is often intriguing, or striking. Who can look at a Caravaggio painting and not understand immediately the intense drama portrayed? Who can look at a Bernini sculpture and not be moved by the moment of conversion or religious ecstasy? Even if you don’t know a lot about art, these most basic emotions and feelings are clear. Even St Ignatius of Loyola extolled the value of art in spiritual devotions when he describes a Michelangelo painting of the Crucifixion in his Spiritual Exercises.