“A Theology of Beauty” is the title of a five-day conference at La Salle University exploring the broader context of the role of beauty in the spiritual life.

The July 12-17 conference offers coursework to students and the public that is available for graduate credit or continuing education units.

Father Frank Berna, Ph.D., director of Theology and Ministry Graduate Studies at La Salle, said the program will explore theological aesthetics, drawing on the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar as well as contemporary engagement of theology with the arts. The conference includes classroom lectures, workshops and guided discussions, and evening lectures.


“Some of the early Church fathers proposed that the philosophers had a hidden knowledge of the Trinity in their recognition of the transcendent categories of truth, beauty and goodness,” said Father Berna. “Through various ages, the Roman Church has supported the arts — painting, sculpture and music. The 20th century theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar is most noted for his theological aesthetics in his work ‘The Glory of the Lord.’ Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis similarly speak of the beauty of God, and finding God in the beauty of creation.”

Students will meet with the course mentor to engage in a critical analysis of the presentations and to incorporate materials from assigned readings. Following the week-long residency, they will submit a research paper or project.

Free and open to the public, all evening lectures will be held in the Dunleavy Room on the third floor of the Union Building at 7 p.m., with the exception of Tuesday night’s lecture, which takes place in the University Chapel on the lower level of College Hall. The schedule follows:

Sunday, July 12 — “Beauty as a Path to God: An Introduction to Beauty and Spirituality”
Presented by Father Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

Monday, July 13 — “The Crystal Cathedral”
Presented by Brother William J. Woeger, F.S.C., director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Omaha in Nebraska.

Tuesday, July 14 — “A Musical Meditation”
A performance on the harp by Lisa Holsberg, curator of “Heaven and Earth: Sacred Music from the Byzantine Greek and Slavic Traditions,” at Columbia University.

Wednesday, July 15 — “The Beauty of an ‘Integral Ecology’: Laudato Si and the City of Brotherly Love”
Presented by Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Religion at La Salle.

Thursday, July 16 — “Seeing the Beautiful in Creation: Bonaventure and the Fathers”
Presented by Professor Daniel McClain, director of program operations of the Master of Theological Studies program at Loyola University in Maryland.

For more information about the conference or lecture series, call Father Berna at 215-951-1346.