Paintings are living scripture and also of great use to the educated to avoid sins
Year mention: 1617
Ancient images
Confirmation of iconographic tradition
Sacred vs. profane imagery

Church approves of the use of ancient images because they can help to avoid sin

Molanus, Johannes
Frostispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Frontispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek — Th H 1475. Digital Reproduction: München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2015.

Molanus discusses another time the usefulness of ancient images to those who have fallen into sin or who run the risk of doing so. An important addition he makes here is the fact that images are not only important to the illiterature, but also to people of great culture or saint habits. He bases this on the Greek saying that paintings are living scripture, which he derived from Saint Bede’s Temple of Salomon.

“Indeed, paintings are a living scripture, as the Greeks call them, and they are the book not only of laymen and illiterates but also of men of great culture and holy morals, who confess that their vision is of great use to them, even that it has caused their tears. It is for this reason that, since ancient times, the Holy Church has usually ordered those who have fallen into certain sins, and those who are tempted to commit them, to take into consideration such images.”

“Sunt enim picturae vivae scripturae, quomodo Graeci nominant et non tantum laicorum et idiotarum libri, sed doctissimorum quoque et sanctissimorum virorum, qui earum inspectionem fatentur sibi magnam utilitatem, imo lachrimas perisse. Hac sane de causa sancta Ecclesia solet antiquitus santarum huiusmodi imaginum inspectionem eis conmendare, qui aut in peccata quaedam inciderant, aut ab eis impugnabantur.”

Quoted Authorities

Saint Bede, Temple of Salomon, ch. 18

Church, Painting, sin, writing

picturae vivae scripturae
Date mention

Historical Location

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 17, 75

Molanus 1996, 170-171.

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