the coquettification of catholicism

Mina Le
20 Mar 202432:40

Summary

TLDRThe video explores the appropriation of Catholic symbols in fashion, highlighting the Met Costume Institute's 2018 exhibit 'Heavenly Bodies' and the resurgence of Catholic aesthetics among young, cool people. It delves into the fashion styles of popes, the opulence of Catholic Church art and architecture, and how these religious elements have been repurposed in high fashion. The discussion also touches on the sincerity behind the Catholic aesthetic trend and its evolution in the face of societal changes and Church doctrine.

Takeaways

  • 🎨 The Met Costume Institute's 2018 exhibit, Heavenly Bodies, highlighted the intersection of Catholicism and high fashion, sparking widespread media interest and public discourse.
  • πŸ‘— The trend of young people embracing Catholic aesthetics and even converting to Catholicism has seen a surge, with unique phenomena like confession readings being sold online.
  • πŸ‘  Fashion icons like Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II have influenced the perception of Catholic fashion, with their distinctive styles reflecting both tradition and modernity.
  • 🏰 The opulence of Catholic Church architecture and art has historically been used to convey the Church's power and influence, which has translated into fashion and cultural trends.
  • πŸ“– The Second Vatican Council and the Counter-Reformation were pivotal in shaping Catholic aesthetics, with the latter emphasizing the richness and beauty of religious art as a response to Protestant critiques.
  • πŸ‘— High fashion often borrows from Catholic imagery to convey a sense of luxury and exclusivity, with designers from predominantly Catholic countries playing a significant role in this cultural exchange.
  • 🎢 Catholicism's influence extends beyond fashion, with its iconography and themes present in music and film, often used to evoke a sense of the mystical and the taboo.
  • πŸ€” The Catholic aesthetic has been adopted by various subcultures, including the coquette and the more recent Catholic Mexican girl core, reflecting a complex relationship between faith, culture, and fashion.
  • πŸ’‘ The sincerity behind the adoption of Catholic fashion and aesthetics is a point of contention, with some viewing it as a genuine expression of faith and others as a performative or aesthetic choice.
  • 🌐 Social media and the internet have played a significant role in the spread and interpretation of Catholic aesthetics, with memes and online communities contributing to the evolution of these trends.

Q & A

  • What is the main topic of the video?

    -The main topic of the video is the appropriation of Catholic symbols in fashion and the trend of young people embracing Catholic aesthetics and even converting to Catholicism.

  • What was the significance of the Met Costume Institute's 2018 exhibit, Heavenly Bodies?

    -The 2018 exhibit, Heavenly Bodies, was significant because it heavily featured the appropriation of Catholic symbols in high fashion and was widely covered by mainstream media.

  • How did Pope Benedict XVI contribute to the fashion sense of the Catholic Church?

    -Pope Benedict XVI was known for his fashionable sense, including his red papal loafers, which led to him being named one of the best dressed men in America by Esquire in 2007.

  • What is the role of religious art in the Catholic Church?

    -Religious art in the Catholic Church serves to inspire and show the triumphant power of the institution. It is used to increase the emotional impact on individuals during liturgical rituals and has been a point of contention during religious reforms.

  • Why is the Catholic aesthetic considered attractive in high fashion?

    -The Catholic aesthetic is considered attractive in high fashion because of its historical ties to elite culture, its opulence, and its ability to convey a sense of expensiveness and eliteness.

  • What is the #catholicaesthetic trend among young people?

    -The #catholicaesthetic trend is a subset of the coquette subculture that integrates pastel colors, lace, slip dresses, cross necklaces, and other Catholic-inspired accessories. It is accessible and often used to express softness, sexiness, and submission.

  • How has Catholicism been portrayed in popular culture, such as music and film?

    -Catholicism has been portrayed in popular culture as both mystical and taboo, often juxtaposed with sins like sexuality and violence. It has a significant presence in the horror genre and has influenced music, particularly in songs with sexual themes and erotic imagery.

  • What is the argument against wearing Catholic-inspired fashion?

    -The argument against wearing Catholic-inspired fashion is that it can be seen as trivializing or blasphemous, especially when the symbols are used in provocative or insincere ways that do not respect the religious significance of the symbols.

  • What is the significance of the Catholic aesthetic in the context of social media and performative culture?

    -The Catholic aesthetic in the context of social media and performative culture reflects a generation raised on the constant need for performance and aesthetics to create meaning. It blurs the lines between genuine faith and performative gestures, making it a topic of debate among different groups.

  • How has the Catholic Church adapted to modern society and cultural shifts?

    -The Catholic Church has adapted to modern society and cultural shifts through events like the Second Vatican Council, which aimed to modernize the Church, and by its ongoing engagement with societal issues that affect its followers. However, the Church's stance on certain cultural trends, like the Catholic aesthetic, can vary widely.

  • What is the future of the Catholic aesthetic and its acceptance in society?

    -The future of the Catholic aesthetic and its acceptance in society is uncertain, as it depends on the evolving views of the Church and the cultural shifts within society. It may continue to be a trend or could face backlash if it is seen as disrespectful or insincere.

Outlines

00:00

πŸŽ₯ Introduction to Fashion and Catholicism

The video begins with an introduction to the topic of Catholic symbols in fashion, highlighting the 2018 Met Costume Institute's Heavenly Bodies exhibit and Zendaya's Versace outfit as prominent examples. The speaker, Mina Le, plans to discuss the high fashion industry's use of Catholicism and the trend of young people adopting Catholic aesthetics and even converting to the religion. The video also touches on the commercialization of Catholic confessions and the importance of authenticity in religious practices.

05:00

πŸ‘  Papal Fashion and its Influence

This paragraph delves into the fashion sense of Pope Benedict XVI, who was known for his stylish red papal loafers and was named one of the best dressed men in America by Esquire in 2007. The discussion includes the Pope's use of sunglasses, baseball caps, and even an iPod Nano. It contrasts Benedict's style with Pope John Paul II's more muted approach, and explores the reasons behind the differences in their presentations, including the role of the papacy and personal charisma. The paragraph also mentions the impact of the Second Vatican Council on Catholic clergy's attire and the unique fashion choices of Pope Francis.

10:03

🏰 Historical Catholic Architecture and Art

The paragraph discusses the historical context of Catholic aesthetics, starting from the establishment of the Christian Church by Emperor Constantine in 311 AD. It explains the architectural evolution from ancient pagan temples to basilicas and the influence of Gothic and Baroque styles in creating ornate cathedrals. The emphasis on religious art in Catholicism is highlighted, including the debate over idolatry and the use of paintings and frescoes. The Counter-Reformation's impact on religious art and the Catholic Church's response to Protestant criticisms are also covered, illustrating the Church's use of art to assert its power and influence.

15:05

πŸ‘— High Fashion and Catholic Imagery

This section examines the use of Catholic imagery in high fashion, particularly through the Met's Heavenly Bodies exhibit, which featured ecclesiastical clothing and accessories. It discusses the historical connection between elite culture and Catholicism and how luxury fashion brands use Catholic symbols to convey a sense of expensiveness and eliteness. The paragraph also explores the cultural pervasiveness of Catholicism in the western world and its influence on fashion designers, including notable examples from Chanel, Versace, and Dolce & Gabbana.

20:06

🎢 Catholicism in Music and Pop Culture

The paragraph focuses on the use of Catholic iconography and religious language in music, especially in songs with sexual themes and erotic imagery. It mentions Madonna's use of religious symbols as a form of rebellion against conservatism and Lana del Rey's incorporation of Catholic aesthetics in her music. The rise of the Catholic aesthetic among young people is discussed, along with the brand Praying and its controversial designs. The paragraph also touches on the memeification of Catholic culture and the search for authenticity in a digital age.

25:08

πŸ“œ Catholic Aesthetics and Cultural Appropriation

This section discusses the Catholic aesthetic as a subset of the coquette subculture and its integration into fashion and culture. It explores the idea of Catholic fashion being adopted as a 'vibe' rather than a sincere expression of faith. The paragraph examines the concept of cultural appropriation within the Catholic aesthetic, particularly the Catholic Mexican girl core and its potential for fetishization of Spanish colonization. The influence of the Dimes Square scene in New York City and its reaction to progressive culture is also discussed, along with the potential for insincerity in the adoption of Catholic aesthetics.

30:10

πŸ™ The Future of Catholic Fashion and Faith

The video concludes with a reflection on the evolving meaning of Catholicism in culture and the potential shifts in its interpretation. It discusses the impact of real-world events on young urban Catholics and the Church's role in shaping these perceptions. The paragraph considers the possibility that the current trend of Catholic-inspired fashion may change over time, depending on cultural and religious developments. It ends with a note on the importance of sincerity in engaging with religious symbols and practices.

Mindmap

Keywords

πŸ’‘Catholic Appropriation

The act of adopting or using elements of Catholicism, particularly its symbols and aesthetics, in fashion and popular culture. In the video, this concept is discussed in relation to high fashion and the trend of young people embracing Catholic aesthetics, often without a deep understanding or adherence to the religious beliefs themselves.

πŸ’‘Fashion Industry

An industry that focuses on the design, manufacture, and marketing of clothing, accessories, and fashion-related items. It is a significant part of the economy and cultural expression. In the context of the video, the fashion industry is examined for its use of Catholic symbols and its influence on the Catholic aesthetic trend among youth.

πŸ’‘Catholic Aesthetics

A style or trend that incorporates elements of Catholic visual culture, such as crosses, rosary beads, and clerical clothing, into fashion and personal style. It is often associated with a sense of mystique, tradition, and sometimes rebellion. The video explores the resurgence of Catholic aesthetics in contemporary fashion and its appeal to young, cool people.

πŸ’‘Cultural Appropriation

The adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture, often without understanding or respect for the original culture and context. In the video, this term is discussed in the context of using Catholic symbols in fashion, raising questions about the sincerity and respect behind such appropriations.

πŸ’‘Religious Iconography

Visual representations of religious figures, symbols, or themes, which hold deep significance and are used in worship or religious practices. In the video, religious iconography is discussed in relation to its use in fashion, where it can be seen as both a form of cultural expression and potential appropriation.

πŸ’‘Counter-Reformation

A period of Catholic resurgence in response to the Protestant Reformation, characterized by the reaffirmation of Catholic doctrines and the promotion of religious art to emphasize the Church's power and prestige. The video connects the Counter-Reformation to the historical use of opulent religious art and clothing, which continue to influence modern fashion.

πŸ’‘Social Media

Online platforms that allow users to create and share content or participate in social networking. In the video, social media is discussed as a driving force behind trends and the spread of aesthetic movements, including the Catholic aesthetic, as well as a space where religious practices and beliefs are performed and explored.

πŸ’‘Aestheticization

The process of treating or regarding something as a work of art or as having aesthetic value, oftenε‰₯离 its original context or meaning. In the video, aestheticization is discussed in relation to how religious symbols and practices are transformed into fashion trends and lifestyle choices, sometimes divorced from their religious significance.

πŸ’‘Postmodern Catholic Aesthetic

A contemporary interpretation of Catholic aesthetics that combines traditional religious symbols with modern, often ironic or provocative elements. This aesthetic is characterized by a blend of reverence and irreverence towards religious traditions.

πŸ’‘Sinisterity

The quality or state of being insincere or not meant to be taken seriously. In the context of the video, it refers to the perception that some individuals' adoption of Catholic aesthetics or faith is not genuine but rather a trend or fashion statement.

Highlights

Squarespace is an all-in-one platform for building a brand and growing a business online, offering easy-to-use features and website templates.

The Met Costume Institute's 2018 exhibit, Heavenly Bodies, showcased the appropriation of Catholic symbols in fashion.

Zendaya's Versace outfit at the Heavenly Bodies event became iconic and influenced fashion trends.

A trend of young people flaunting Catholic aesthetics and converting to Catholicism has emerged in recent years.

The sale of Catholic confession readings on social media reflects the commercialization of religious practices.

Pope Benedict XVI was known for his fashion sense, including his red papal loafers.

Pope Benedict's fashion choices were seen as a way to revive the Catholic Church's visual culture and tradition.

Pope Francis has adopted a humble fashion sense, opting for simpler materials and accessories.

The Catholic Church's ornate architecture and emphasis on religious art contribute to its aesthetics being more ripe for appropriation by the fashion industry.

High fashion often uses Catholic imagery to convey a sense of expensiveness and eliteness, drawing on the history of elite culture and Catholicism.

The Met's Heavenly Bodies Exhibit featured religious garments from various popes, highlighting the fine costumes in history.

Catholicism's material culture and proximity to the mystical make it taboo and enticing in fashion and other cultural expressions.

The Catholic aesthetic among young people integrates pastel colors, lace, and religious symbols in a more accessible style.

The brand Praying is an example of the Catholic aesthetic, often sexualizing women's innocence through its designs.

The Dimes Square scene in New York City represents a niche influence of the postmodern Catholic aesthetic.

The debate over wearing Catholic-inspired fashion often centers on sincerity and the intention behind the use of religious symbols.

Catholicism's meaning and cultural impact shifts over time, influenced by the Church and societal changes.

The Catholic aesthetic may evolve from being trendy to more complex as real-world events confront young urban Catholics.

Transcripts

00:00

- This video is brought to you by Squarespace,

00:02

an all-in-one platform for building a brand

00:03

and growing your business online.

00:05

Hello sweet angels.

00:06

My name is Mina Le and I talk about fashion, culture,

00:08

and media commentary here on this channel.

00:10

(birds chirp)

00:11

(pulleys whir)

00:13

(car meows)

00:14

So today, I decided I was gonna tackle a video topic

00:18

that I actually get a lot of requests for,

00:20

which is the appropriation of Catholic symbols

00:23

in fashion. (Catholic organ music)

00:34

(record player crackles)

00:35

The most prominent example I can think of

00:38

is the Met Costume Institute's 2018 exhibit,

00:42

Heavenly Bodies, which was like heavily covered

00:45

by the mainstream media.

00:46

Also, the Versace outfit that Zendaya wore

00:49

to that event lives rent-free in my mind

00:51

and I tried to kinda channel it today,

00:53

but you know, we don't have that kind of budget, (laughs)

00:56

and we also don't look like Zendaya, so.

00:58

And I will be talking about Heavenly Bodies

01:00

and the role of Catholicism

01:02

in like the high fashion industry,

01:04

but also I wanna talk about a phenomenon

01:05

that started a couple years ago, which is this trend

01:08

of young, cool people flaunting Catholic aesthetics

01:10

and even converting to Catholicism.

01:13

As an example, a Depop user reached Twitter virality

01:16

for selling Catholic confession readings.

01:18

Under her product description, she wrote, "I would love

01:20

"to help any fellow coquette clean girl aesthetic girlies

01:23

"to absolve you of your sins, for a cheap price of $5."

01:26

(record scratches) "I would love

01:27

"to help any fellow coquette clean girl aesthetic girlies

01:29

"to absolve you of your sins."

01:30

- [Person] Huh?

01:31

- Not only is it crazy to me to charge for confession

01:35

because you can literally get that done for free

01:37

at your local Catholic church,

01:39

but even if you don't agree with the hierarchy

01:41

of the church, I think it's common sense to say

01:43

that it's probably better if you're going

01:45

to get a confession reading to get it done

01:47

by someone who's been studying the Bible for years

01:50

and has reached some kind of level of certification,

01:53

versus getting a reading from a girl on the internet

01:55

who is only baptized, allegedly.

01:58

Also, the fact that coquette and clean girl aesthetics

02:01

are two completely different things

02:02

and don't go together, a questionable source.

02:04

Do not get your confessions from this person.

02:06

But anyway, there's a lot to discuss,

02:08

so let's just get started.

02:09

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02:13

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02:57

(upbeat jazz music)

03:01

(Catholic organ music)

03:06

One Pope ago, Pope Benedict XVI was known

03:09

for a number of things.

03:10

I'm sure many of those things had to do

03:12

with his actual leadership of the Catholic Church,

03:15

but the other thing, the arguably more fun thing,

03:18

was that he had quite the fashion sense.

03:20

(energetic house music)

03:22

So much so that in 2007, Esquire named him

03:25

as one of the best dressed men in America,

03:27

which, I know, doesn't even make sense

03:28

because he's not in America,

03:31

but whatever, the point still stands. (laughs)

03:33

β™ͺ You betta work β™ͺ

03:35

- And one of the sartorial things he was most known for

03:38

were his shoes, a pair of red papal loafers

03:41

that actually made headlines

03:42

because people initially thought they were Prada.

03:45

The Washington Post even addressed the rumors

03:47

shortly after his coronation in 2005.

03:50

"Whether it's Prada and Gucci

03:51

"or just fancy ecclesiastical tailoring,

03:54

"Pope Benedict XVI is his own man when it comes to dressing.

03:57

"The vintage styles have turned Benedict into something

04:00

"of a fashion celebrity."

04:01

The shoes were not Prada and were actually made locally

04:04

by Roman cobblers, but the rumors probably started

04:07

because Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II

04:10

who served an almost 30-year term,

04:12

opted for a muted burgundy pair instead

04:15

when he was in office.

04:16

Do they say in office?

04:17

When he was reigning?

04:19

So in comparison, despite being very on protocol,

04:21

Benedict's firetruck red shoes looked a little ostentatious

04:25

for office.

04:26

With that said,

04:27

the Pope was photographed wearing Serengeti sunglasses,

04:29

Adidas baseball caps, and allegedly also received,

04:32

but was not photographed wearing,

04:34

20 pairs of swimming trunks from the company Fallani.

04:37

He also owned an iPod Nano given to him

04:39

by Vatican Radio on the station's 75th birthday.

04:42

(Catholic organ music)

04:47

Rocco Palmo, a Vatican watcher and correspondent

04:50

for the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet,

04:52

gave a possible explanation

04:53

for why the two popes differed so much in presentation.

04:57

He said, "John Paul shirked many of the ancient trappings

05:00

"of the papacy for a handful of reasons.

05:02

"He wasn't keen to allow the props to upstage what he saw

05:05

"as the main draw, his message and himself.

05:09

"Benedict, on the other hand,

05:11

"had none of John Paul's charisma,

05:14

"and according to Palmo, Benedict was a man

05:16

"to whom the constant mass attention

05:18

"of the papacy did not come easy

05:20

"and who, in consequence, took immense pains

05:23

"to get his appearance right."

05:24

Honestly, kinda shady for Palmo to say.

05:26

Peter Popham offered a nicer explanation

05:28

for The Independent, writing that,

05:30

"Vanity may have something to do with all this,

05:32

"but more likely,

05:33

"it is the shy theologian exploring the symbology

05:36

"of his church's oldest traditions,

05:38

"sending out messages through the items he chooses to use."

05:42

The Guardian also contended

05:43

that Benedict's papal uniform represented an effort

05:46

to revive the Catholic Church's hegemonic heritage

05:48

and tradition within visual culture.

05:50

Benedict himself even repeated both as cardinal

05:53

and as Roman pontiff

05:54

that "art and the saints are the greatest apologetic

05:57

"for our faith."

05:58

But despite all the hoopla,

06:00

Benedict was far from the first pope to be fashionable.

06:03

Prior to the 1960s, it was actually common for the pope

06:06

to wear intricate and decorative clothing,

06:08

but in the mid-'60s,

06:10

the Catholic clergy convened at the Second Vatican Council

06:13

to discuss the modernization of the Church.

06:16

Pope Paul VI, who was pope under this phase,

06:18

eliminated these more ostentatious robes and accessories,

06:22

and even auctioned a papal tiara,

06:24

which The New York Times estimated was roughly $80,000

06:28

in 1964, (cash register dings)

06:30

and then donated those proceeds to charities

06:32

and organizations assisting the poor.

06:34

As a priest told The Guardian,

06:36

"The church processed into the Second Vatican Council

06:38

"in cloth of gold and watered silk

06:40

"and shambled out the other end in drip-dry horse blankets

06:43

"and polyester."

06:45

(chuckles) Not polyester.

06:46

- Becoming like this big polyester meteor

06:48

in our closet, you know.

06:50

- However, at a time of global economic uncertainty

06:52

and with the Church struggling to retain its members

06:54

in an increasingly secular world,

06:57

Benedict may have felt that reinforcing tradition

06:59

and underlining the continuity of ritual was a bold

07:02

and necessary direction.

07:04

The result of his dressing meant

07:05

that companies were scrambling

07:07

to get the pope's endorsement,

07:08

which I honestly thought was really dystopian

07:11

when researching all this, 'cause I had no idea.

07:13

Popham reported in 2006, "Manufacturers of everything

07:17

"from luxury cars to loafers are climbing over each other

07:21

"to obtain the discreet endorsement

07:23

"of a man whose needs are so few

07:25

"that everything he lays hands on gets noticed."

07:28

John Allert, the chief executive of the British unit

07:31

of Interbrand, a global branding consultancy,

07:33

even told The Wall Street Journal

07:35

that for a product to be associated

07:37

with the Pope was at least 100 times better

07:40

than being sported by an A-list celebrity,

07:42

because his following is more devoted.

07:44

Imagine having a parasocial relationship with the pope.

07:47

- I saw Cady Heron wearing army pants and flip flops,

07:50

so I bought army pants and flip flops.

07:52

- In defense of Pope Benedict, I will mention

07:54

that Pope John Paul II had his own material vices.

07:57

He was known to enjoy a fondness for Rolex watches,

08:01

which Teen Vogue cites as an iconic papal fashion moment.

08:04

As for our current pope,

08:05

Pope Francis has brought back a humble fashion sense.

08:09

Yes, sorry to bear the bad news, but the photos

08:11

of him wearing a puffer coat were in fact AI-generated.

08:14

Francis opts for wool instead of silk,

08:16

simple wood or metal crosses instead of gold,

08:19

gem-encrusted ones, black shoes instead of red.

08:22

Catholic news outlet Crux refers

08:24

to his laid back style as papal athleisure. (chuckles)

08:28

The most interesting trivia I learned is that his tailor,

08:30

Filippo Sorcinelli, who was also Benedict's tailor, is gay,

08:35

and in 2013, someone

08:36

or some people sent in 2,500 anonymous letters

08:40

to newspapers outing Sorcinelli in efforts

08:42

to I guess like cancel him,

08:45

but I guess the Vatican thought his work was so good

08:47

that they continued to work with Sorcinelli anyway.

08:50

Though interestingly, TODAY Italy interviewed him

08:52

and asked if any priests have ever made advances towards him

08:55

and he said, "It happens, but I make it clear

08:59

"that it is a mistake."

09:01

Sorcinelli also created a room and clothing spray

09:03

for the popes, which that inspired him

09:05

to open up his own perfume business called Unum,

09:09

which includes in their line, a scent that is based

09:11

on gay eroticism.

09:13

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting

09:14

to talk about the fashion styles of the popes

09:16

because they are arguably the most fashionable members

09:18

of the Catholic Church, and also a lot

09:20

of their clothing tends to be reappropriated

09:22

in the high fashion space.

09:24

(Catholic organ music)

09:28

I think we should discuss the opulence

09:30

of the Catholic Church, because it helps explain

09:32

why Catholicism tends to be more appropriated

09:34

by the fashion industry than, let's say,

09:37

Protestant denominations.

09:39

Okay, so to understand the aesthetics of Catholicism,

09:42

we have to go way back.

09:45

In 311 AD, I wasn't exaggerating, (laughs) way back,

09:49

Emperor Constantine established the Christian Church

09:52

as a power in the state,

09:53

and the result was that they needed to erect institutions

09:57

where people could practice this now dominant religion.

09:59

The problem was, they couldn't just build Christian churches

10:03

on top of the ancient pagan temples

10:05

because the functions of these temples differed

10:08

from the functions of the church.

10:10

Many ancient temples had pretty small interiors

10:12

that usually hosted a shrine

10:14

to a specific god, while larger processions

10:17

and sacrifices took place outside.

10:19

In contrast, the church needed a large interior space

10:23

because that's where everyone would congregate

10:24

for service while the priest read mass.

10:27

The church also condemned the worship

10:28

of these specific gods, so everything

10:31

about these existing temples were like,

10:33

giving Christian red flags.

10:35

What they ended up doing was model new churches based

10:38

on the large assembly halls of the time known as basilicas

10:41

or royal halls.

10:42

Probably, the architectural styles that many of us associate

10:45

with Catholicism the most are the Gothic style

10:48

that arose in the 12th and 13th centuries

10:50

and the Baroque style that arose in the 17th century.

10:53

These types of ornate cathedrals were meant to inspire

10:56

and show the kind of triumphant power

10:59

that the Catholic Church wielded.

11:00

As professor of Italian studies Stephen J. Baker explains,

11:04

"Ornamentation in Catholic sacred architecture serves

11:06

"to increase a building's emotional impact

11:09

"upon an individual's transformational process

11:11

"during the liturgical ritual."

11:13

What also sets the Catholic Church apart

11:15

from some other groups of Christians is its emphasis

11:17

on religious art.

11:18

In the early Constantine days when they were just trying

11:20

to figure out what to fill these new churches with,

11:22

statues were for sure out of the question.

11:24

They reminded everyone of paganism,

11:27

and idolatry was also a concern.

11:30

The term idolatry means the worship of idols,

11:32

and the reason idolatry is prohibited

11:34

by the church is because there's a fear

11:36

that people will worship the image

11:38

and then attach divine attributes

11:40

to said image instead of worshiping the one true God.

11:45

However, it's unclear what exactly is considered idolatry,

11:48

but early Christians could at least agree

11:50

that statues were definitely considered,

11:52

and so out of the question.

11:55

But what about paintings?

11:57

There were some Christians

11:58

who believed paintings also counted as idolatry,

12:01

but Pope Gregory the Great who lived

12:03

at the end of the 6th century AD believed

12:05

that paintings were integral for religious teaching

12:07

and inspiring devotion, especially because many members

12:10

of the church could not read or write.

12:12

And so artists following his lead painted frescoes

12:14

to cover the churches' walls.

12:16

Fast forward to 1517,

12:19

a German priest named Martin Luther

12:21

published the "Ninety-five Theses,"

12:22

which challenged almost every aspect

12:24

of the Catholic Church,

12:26

leading to the Protestant Reformation in which more

12:28

and more people found something about the Church to hate on.

12:31

Among these complaints was the idea

12:33

that the church was encouraging idolatry

12:35

with all their religious art.

12:36

There was also the idea that the Church was hypocritical

12:39

because they were preaching Christian values of poverty,

12:41

meanwhile, cathedrals were literally dripping in gold,

12:45

silver, and other precious materials.

12:47

The pope was also accused of living lavishly.

12:50

In retaliation,

12:51

the Catholic Church hard-launched the Counter-Reformation

12:54

in which they attempted

12:55

to strengthen their own doctrines against the Protestants.

12:58

When it came to religious art, they decreed

13:00

that the Protestants were wrong

13:02

because the Old Testament God had requested

13:05

that his house be decorated richly.

13:07

Elayne Oliphant, NYU Professor

13:09

of religious studies, explains,

13:11

"While the Protestant Reformation critiqued excesses

13:13

"of wealth and opulence in churches and art,

13:16

"in many ways, the Catholic Church replied

13:18

"by further emphasizing the richness and beauty of art."

13:22

The Counter-Reformation movement

13:23

inevitably sparked a resurgence

13:25

of Catholic fervor throughout Europe

13:26

and its cultural manifestation was Baroque art.

13:30

Artists like Caravaggio, Reni, Carracci,

13:32

and Barocci were recruited to affirm salvation

13:35

in the Catholic Church through beauty.

13:37

This championing

13:38

of more extravagant religious art extended

13:40

beyond painting scriptures in architecture

13:42

to also include the ceremonial robes

13:45

and jewels worn by the clergy.

13:47

Oliphant explains, "Just at the point

13:49

"when nation-states were taking over the rights

13:51

"of taxation, were expropriating church properties

13:54

"and capitalism was expanding rapidly throughout Europe,

13:56

"the Vatican again sort of doubled down

13:59

"in its use of art to celebrate its power."

14:01

Today,

14:02

the Vatican still wears traditional ecclesiastical clothing

14:04

for reasons I mentioned earlier in the video.

14:06

In contrast,

14:07

many Protestant reformers abandoned ecclesiastical dress

14:10

because they wanted

14:11

to downplay the visual distinction between church leaders

14:15

and the laity.

14:16

What that means is that in a very general sense,

14:19

Catholics have a clear visual culture

14:22

which makes their aesthetics more ripe for the picking.

14:24

(Catholic organ music)

14:28

High fashion is very elite.

14:30

I don't know if you guys knew this. (laughs)

14:32

But especially couture, and lots of times,

14:35

the luxury industry will seek out codes

14:37

to distinguish their expensive garments

14:39

from their lesser counterparts.

14:42

It therefore makes sense to use Catholic imagery

14:44

to convey the sense of expensiveness and eliteness

14:47

because of the longstanding history tying elite culture

14:49

and Catholicism.

14:51

For the Met's Heavenly Bodies Exhibit,

14:52

the Sistine Chapel actually loaned several items

14:55

of clothing, including the golden cape of Pope Benedict XV

14:59

who reigned from 1914 to 1922, the chasuble and mitre

15:02

of his successor, Pius XI,

15:04

and the 19th century dalmatic of Pius IX,

15:08

as well as his heavily jeweled tiara.

15:09

All of this is to say, according to Andrew Bolton,

15:12

head curator of the Met's Costume Institute,

15:14

that "The finest costumes

15:15

"in history were always either imperial or ecclesiastical,

15:19

"sometimes both."

15:20

- Catholics see the world through enchanted eyes.

15:23

Catholicism conveys really deep concepts,

15:26

but it's reflected in these beautiful stories

15:28

that are much more accessible.

15:29

- The Met's Costume Institute is co-chaired by Vogue EIC,

15:32

Anna Wintour, and the exhibit Heavenly Bodies can be seen

15:36

as a continuation of her legacy in the fashion world.

15:39

I say that because Wintour's debut Vogue cover

15:42

in November, 1988 featured a model in a jacket adorned

15:45

with a large cross.

15:46

Professor of religious studies, Lynn S. Neal,

15:48

characterizes this cover as the "transformation

15:51

"and decontextualization of religious symbols.