Part XVI: The "Beauty" That Saves
16. On the threshold of the Third Millennium, my hope for all of you who are artists is that you will
have an especially intense experience of creative inspiration. May the beauty which you pass on to
generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life
and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate
From this wonder there can come that enthusiasm of which Norwid spoke in the poem to which I
referred earlier. People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm if they are to meet and master
the crucial challenges which stand before us. Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses
its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said
with profound insight that "beauty will save the world".
Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to
dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that
hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable
terms: "Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!".
Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where
wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.
May you be guided and inspired by the mystery of the Risen Christ, whom the Church in these days
contemplates with joy.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always: she is the "tota pulchra" portrayed by countless
artists, whom Dante contemplates among the splendours of Paradise as "beauty that was joy in the eyes of all the other saints".
"From chaos there rises the world of the spirit". These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time
of great hardship for his Polish homeland, prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm
that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human
soul to the sense of the eternal.
With my heartfelt good wishes!
From the Vatican, 4 April 1999, Easter Sunday.