Bishop Barron talked about the power of beauty to move hearts, then had his own heart moved by a beautiful gift that he called “the best things I’ve ever gotten in my life.”
Bishop Robert Barron, the popular founder of Word on Fire spoke about his visit to “the great Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas” in a recent edition of his Word on Fire podcast, available on YouTube and in podcast apps.
“I love that visit. It was wonderful,” he told the show’s host, Brandon Vogt. “It’s a great small Catholic college with a very strong sense of Catholic identity.”
He mentioned that he gave the commencement address, but “My favorite moment really was this award from the center for Beauty and Culture, which is run by my good friend, Dr. Denis McNamara, whom I’ve known from Mundelein years ago.”
Benedictine College’s Center for Beauty and Culture presented him with its inaugural Prize for Excellence in Theology and the Arts.
In accepting the award, Bishop Barron shared his thoughts on “this issue of Beauty and the role that it has played in my own work.”
“I’ll tell you the award they gave me is one of the best things I’ve ever gotten in my life,” he said. “It was hand-painted on Vellum the style of the Middle Ages this sort of illuminated manuscript, basically.”
The award accounts the story in Latin behind Bishop Barron’s episcopal motto, Non Nisi Te Domine.
St. Thomas Aquinas heard a voice from the cross appreciating his theological work and asking, “What would you have as a reward?”
Thomas answered: “I will have only you.”
“It’s beautifully laid out in Latin calligraphy and then illustrations all around it including illuminations of Aquinas himself the Little Flower and Fulton Sheen,” Bishop Barron said. “It was a marvelous thing. It was just beautiful.”
He said the visit was busy — he also gave the homily for the college’s Baccalaureate Mass and, thanks to a donor, presented Word on Fire Bibles to every graduating senior — but that he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“It was a beautiful trip,” he said. “The kids were marvelous. I met a lot of the faculty, spent a lot of time with them … I was kind of going all day — but I loved it loved every moment of it.” See photos here.
The Center describes the Prize for Excellence in Theology and the Arts by saying it “honors, highlights, and promotes excellence in thought and practice in reestablishing the arts and culture as a revelation of God’s mind and salvific mission, simultaneously establishing Benedictine College as a leading center of influence and intellectual vitality.”
Watch a video describing the award and another video of Bishop Barron sharing his remarks upon receiving it.