Baroque Art, the Catholic Church, and the Virgin Mary
After a century of religious wars, pro-Vatican Baroque art featured big canvases, dramatic statues, exuberant architecture, and immaculately conceived Virgin Marys. It reminded all of the glorious Heaven that awaited the properly faithful.
Complete Video Script
 After decades of war, in 1648, an exhausted Europe reached an uneasy peace that enabled Protestants and Catholics to co-exist. But it left Europe split into two camps: Protestants mainly in the northern countries, Catholics in the south — each with its own culture and style of art. The art of the day was Baroque and it fit Catholic lands perfectly.
 The Baroque style — with its bright colors…big canvases…dramatic statues…exuberant architecture…and over-the-top ornamentation — appealed to the emotions. Put it all together — as Baroque artists loved to do — and the ensemble packed a powerful message.
 After all this turmoil, Catholic Europe craved stability, and the Baroque message was pro status quo: obey the pope and the established order…and things'll be okay. It's no wonder Baroque was the favored style of Catholic rulers.
 The Baroque style flourished in Rome — especially at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic faith. Art became a tool of the Church. To help reinvigorate the faith and counter the Protestant Reformation, churches were made more welcoming — with bright, spacious interiors and dazzling art. Art that made complicated theology easier to understand.
[18, Saint Peter's Basilica, 1626] The grand church of St. Peter's was decorated in the Baroque style to make a statement. The message: to proclaim the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic faith as the one true faith and the pope as its leader.
 The altar radiates these Catholic ideals, with sunlight pouring like the Holy Spirit through its alabaster window — illuminating the symbolic throne of the first pope, St. Peter, and all the popes since. With its sheer size — 600 feet long, big enough for thousands of worshippers…colossal cupids…and massive Baroque canopy, St. Peter's has given centuries of pilgrims and worshippers a glimpse of the heaven that awaited them…if they stayed true to the faith.
 Catholic worshippers were comforted by endearing images of the Virgin Mary, or Madonna. This eternally patient and loving figure took many forms: from sweet and motherly to direct and accessible to the protector of the faithful.
 Wrapped in warm colors and soft light, this Madonna embodies the Catholic belief that Mary was born completely pure — conceived "immaculately." Art could convey that notion more powerfully than any high falutin' Church declaration.
 Baroque artists even helped the faithful experience the miraculous, depicting otherworldly visions in a believable, down-to-earth way — illustrating the intense religious devotion of the age.