Theology and Religious Education
Through Art

crosslisted as DR2303C/3303C and CT2303C/3303C

Rev. Dr Elio Capra SDB
Not offered in 2020

This unit will explore how art has been and remains an integral part of the evangelising and catechising mission of the Church. Through art, the unit will explore essential themes of Catholic theology and scripture, such as: the Trinity, Jesus Christ, Mary, the saints, heaven and hell, the Church, the sacraments, sin and evil, suffering and death, virtues and vices, mission and service. Participants will explore skills and techniques of ‘visual literacy’ through the examination of the elements of art: colour, line, medium, mood, gesture, framing, lighting and symbols. Students will then be invited to unpack the theological and spiritual elements portrayed through art and compare them with the current teachings of the Catholic Church. In each session, students will explore the pedagogical and catechetical application of the arts for their ministry and mission.


BS1001C and CT1100C or equivalent


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester, or in intensive mode


second level
  • one 1,000-word essay 30%
  • one 15 minute presentation (1,000 words) 20%
  • one 2,000-word essay 50%
third level
  • one 1,000-word essay 20%
  • one 15 minute presentation (1,000 words) 20%
  • one 3,000-word essay 60% 


  • Beckett, Wendy. Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces. US ed. New York: DK, 1999.
  • Benedict XVI. Meeting with Artists in the Sistine Chapel: Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI. 21 November 2009.
  • Crumlin, Rosemary. Beyond Belief: Modern Art and the Religious Imagination. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1998.
  • Daily, Eileen. Beyond the Written Word: Exploring Faith through Christian Art. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2005.
  • De Rynck, Patrick. How to Read Bible Stories and Myths in Art: Decoding the Old Masters from Giotto to Goya. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2008.
  • Drury, John. Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and their Meanings. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Gombrich, Ernst H. The Story of Art. 16th ed. Oxford: Phaidon, 1995.
  • Gray, Anne, Thomas Keneally, Rod Radford, Kathleen Soriano, Beatrice Gullström, eds. Australia. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2013.
  • John Paul II. Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists. 1999.
  • O’Kane, M., ed. Imagine the Bible:  An Introduction to Biblical Art. London: SPCK, 2008.