John Saward

The Beauty of Holiness
Art, Sanctity, and the Truth of Catholicism

by John Saward

"Beauty will save the world," said Dostoyevski. This book is a study of two powerful ways in which true beauty shines upon the world - in the lives of the saints and in the works of Christian art, "the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty". This book is a unique and unprecedented meditation on the beauty of Christ and His saints.

It centers on several works of art (reproduced in this book) of a saint - Blessed John Fiesole, known to the world as Fra Angelico. Drawing on Angelico's own theological sources, Saward has written a book not on art history but on the splendor of Catholic truth. Beauty is the splendor of truth, the attractive radiance of truth. This new book is intended to help Christians grow in wonder at the glory of Divine Revelation, to which both the Church's saints and the Church's art bear witness. Illustrated with Angelico's color art.


"This luminous book is so important that it can scarcely be overestimated. The substance of Saward's scholarship, and his understanding of culture, are dazzling. His vision is of utmost urgency. This is wise, deeply moving and invigorating - a masterpiece!"
- Michael O'Brien, Icon Artist, Author, Father Elijah

"Professor Saward provides a great service by his careful treatment of the connection between sacred art, the heroic virtue of saints and the fullness of truth taught by Christ and His Church. The numerous citations of Catholic artists, poets and musicians demonstrate how the Catholic Faith elevates civilization."
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

"The more I read of John Saward's work, the more I find myself including his name on the very short list of preeminently important 20th century Catholic writers. He opens up to us another rich aspect of the Faith which has scarcely been touched on before. Read it, and find your vision vastly deepened and heightened."
- Thomas Howard

"John Saward is immensely cultured, extremely wise and possessed of the rare gift of a style both precise and lyrical. This is a book to treasure and savor for a long time."
-Stratford Caldecott

"A book that makes one want to respond more generously to the glory of God in his icons and his living images, the saints. John Saward is increasingly emerging as the Balthasar of the English-speaking world."
-Aidan Nichols, O.P.

Copyright © John Saward 1997

This version: 7th February 2003


John Saward