Bl. Angelico was to painting what St. Thomas was to theology and Dante to poetry. No artist has approached nearer to the divine ideal. With quiet colors and simple strokes of the brush, he was inimitable in the truth, variety and supernatural express of his pictures. He painted the figure of Our Lord crucified while kneeling and with tears in his eyes. His pictures of the Blessed Virgin are lovely and breathe purity and beatitude. This was because the artist was a saint. He once commented, “To paint Christ, you must live Christ.”
He was formed in his novitiate to the holy observances of the Order by Savonarola; the Blesseds Lawrence of Ripafracta, Antony Neyrot and Constant Fabriano were his guides or his rivals in fervor. His pictures were in great demand, but he had only one answer to all who came: “Get leave from Fr. Prior and I will do what you wish.” Even in the palace of Eugenius IV he kept the abstinence of the Order, and it was he who suggested to the Pontiff the nomination of St. Antoninus to the Archbishopric of Florence.
Although his name was John, he was always called Angelico, because of the angelic character of his paintings and of his life. The title of Blessed is universally given to him, and he is represented in pictures with rays round his head.
Inspired by Bl. Angelico, we can encourage the production and distribution of holy art, from simple cards to masterpieces, taking care they are in good taste and convey holy teaching.
Bl. Angelico, pray for us, that our life may be the picture copied from the image and likeness of Christ.