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Sunday, October 29, 2017
The Drake Hotel & St. John Cantius Church


On October 29th, the Catholic Art Guild hosted a landmark conference with leading philosophers and artists to rediscover the power of Beauty in the modern world. 

The conference, entitled "Beauty and the Restoration of the Sacred",  featured English philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, well-known for his BBC documentary Why Beauty Matters, as well as architect Duncan Stroik, classical artist Anthony Visco, and art historian and educator Denis McNamara.

The ground-breaking conference opened with a Solemn High Mass featuring Renaissance choral music in the baroque splendor of  Chicago’s historic St. John Cantius Church. Conference presentations and discussions took place at The Drake Hotel, followed by an elegant banquet and culminating in a stimulating panel discussion. 

Speakers & Presentation Videos

Sir Roger Scruton
Sir Roger Scruton
Philosopher & Writer

Sir Roger Scruton is a writer and philosopher who has published more than forty books in philosophy, aesthetics and politics. He is widely translated. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches in both England and America and is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington D.C. He is currently teaching an MA in Philosophy for the University of Buckingham.

Video of Sir Roger's Keynote Address

Duncan Stroik
​Duncan Stroik, Classical Architect
The Future of Sacred Art
Synopsis: We are seeing a renaissance of sacred art in service of the Church today. But how successful has it been, and how does it measure up against our patrimony?  Patrons and pastors hire artists based on a variety of reasons, and then their work gets inserted or integrated into our sacred buildings. What is the role of the architect in creating appropriate locations and scales for sacred art? How can artists and architects collaborate together to create masterpieces in the 21st century?
Duncan G. Stroik is a practicing architect, author, and Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame.  His award-winning work includes the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in Santa Paula, California, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  A frequent lecturer on sacred architecture and the classical tradition, Stroik authored The Church Building as a Sacred Place:  Beauty,  Transcendence and the Eternal and is the founding editor of Sacred Architecture Journal.  He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Yale University School of Architecture. Professor Stroik is the 2016 winner of the Arthur Ross Award.
Video of Duncan Storik's Address
Denis McNamara
Dr. Denis McNamara, Art Historian & Educator
Incarnation and Transfiguration: Rediscovering the Iconic Nature of Church Buildings

Synopsis: In the Incarnation, God took on flesh so that He could be seen and encountered, and in the Transfiguration, Christ’s very flesh became radiant with heavenly glory. Church architecture draws from these biblical events to demonstrate that church buildings can reveal both God and heavenly glory, the building blocks of liturgical beauty. Church architecture, then, has a revelatory biblical foundation rooted in the Temple of Solomon, the “living stones” of the New Testament, and the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Book of Revelation and allows worshippers to see beyond this world and encounter their hoped-for heavenly future.


Dr. Denis McNamara is Associate Director and Associate Professor at the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. He holds a BA in the History of Art from Yale University and a PhD in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, where he concentrated his research on the study of ecclesiastical architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries. Read full bio

Video of Dr McNamara's Address

Anthony Visco
Anthony Visco, Catholic Artist
"Drawing God"

Synopsis: Through the centuries our Catholic faith has brought forth, given birth witnessed innumerable manifestations of art and architecture in the Church. It has been in this agreement of variety, this incredibly vast vernacular, that a visual language that brings testimony to the infinite possibilities of art forms in and for the Catholic community as
well as the entire world. Our symbols are plentiful. Our designs are meaningful. Their beauty is powerful.
Having survived modernism, finding our selves in this Post-modern era of the Church, how are we prepared to best to educate the next generations of artists and artists to best restore the beauty to the Church?

Anthony Visco, director of the Atelier for the Sacred Arts, graduated from the University of the Arts, where he received Fullbright–Hayes Grant to travel and study in Florence, Italy. In 1975, he was awarded the Elizabeth T. Greensheilds Grant for figurative sculpture and has received the coveted Arthur Ross Award twice for sculpture within an architectural setting. He has taught at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as well as New York Academy of Art and currently teaches artistic anatomy, signs and symbols of Catholic art, relief composition and drawing at the Sacred Art School/ Firenze.

Video of Anthony Visco's Address

Conference Photos

Opening Holy Mass for the Feast of Christ the King

All photos courtesy of Ruth Durkin and Rose Laneau

The Conference Presentations, Dinner, & Panel Discussion

All photos courtesy of Ruth Durkin and Rose Laneau

Press Coverage of the Conference & Guild

February 23, 2023

The Epoch Times coverage of the CAG conference.

November 08, 2017's coverage of the Catholic Art Guild conference.

October 04, 2017

Regina Magazine's feature on the Catholic Art Guild.

November 12, 2017

Thought provoking take on the topic of beauty and the Catholic Art Guild Conference

October 24, 2017

Interview with Dr. Denis McNamara, Kathleen Carr, & Fr Joshua Caswell SJC

November 30, 2017

Dr. Christopher Morrissey covers the Catholic Art Guild conference for British Columbia Catholic in Canada

Sacred Art Scene Blog: "Restoring the Sacred: Catholic Art Guild’s Conference and My First Latin Mass"

November 10, 2017

Kate Frantz covers the Catholic Art Guild Conference and her experience of her first Latin High Mass.

November 30, 2017

Kate Frantz interview on Sacred Art Scene with CAG President, Kathleen Carr

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