Beauty Advocate Denis McNamara Joins Benedictine

“I think we are on the verge of the time when people will take the sacramental role of art much more seriously.”

So says Denis McNamara, who has been hired by Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, to start work on a new initiative to help transform culture through beauty. (Pictured: McNamara with Benedictine College Honors students.)

McNamara is many things: A lecturer, a writer, a scholar, a popular podcaster, an architectural consultant — and a judge at sacred art competitions like the one held by the Archdiocese of Kansas City-Kansas.

The history and meaning of art and architecture has been central to his work all along.

McNamara comes to Benedictine College after years as Associate Director and Associate Professor in the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. He holds a B.A. in History of Art from Yale University and a Masters and Ph.D. in Architectural History from the University of Virginia.

“A church building is first and foremost an image of Christ and His Mystical Body, with all that this claim implies,” he wrote at the blog of Adoremus — Society for the Renewal of Sacred Liturgy, where he is a frequent author.

His books include How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture (2011). His scholarship, which appears in many journals, focuses on the theology of liturgical art and architecture, classicism, and sacramental aesthetics. He is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Society for Catholic Liturgy and the Institute for Classical Architecture.

McNamara is a valuable source of formation in art and architecture. Some ways to benefit from his expertise:

The initiative McNamara is working on at Benedictine College is still taking shape, but one thing is certain, it will bear his unique stamp.

“The job of the liturgical artist is to use the matter of creation — paint, stone, gold, glass, whatever — to reveal [the creator],” wrote McNamara. “The artist’s job is to use matter to reveal and make present the heavenly realities.”

Image: Denis McNamara tours the Nelson-Atkins Museum in nearby Kansas City with Honors Students from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kanas (photo: John Traffas).

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.