He observed that when people stand before a sculpture or painting, read a few verses poetry or even listen to a song, everyone has “experienced deep within us an intimate emotion, a sense of joy.” This sensation, he said, is an interior recognition that says that was is being seen or heard is “not only mere matter” but “something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; of elevating the soul,” and leading people, ultimately, to God.
Pope Benedict also noted that there are “artistic expressions that are true paths to God, the supreme Beauty,” and that these works can “help nurture our relationship with Him in prayer. These are works that are born of faith and express faith.”
The Pope then illustrated his point using his own personal experience. He recalled attending a performance of the works of J.S. Bach, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, in Munich.
“After the last piece of music, one of the Cantate, I felt, not by reasoning, but in my heart, that what I heard had conveyed to me truth, something of the truth of the great composer’s faith and this pressed me to praise and thank the Lord.”
The Pope said he was so moved by the experience that the turned to the Lutheran Bishop of Munich sitting next to him and exclaimed, “Hearing this we understand: it is true, true faith is so strong, and the beauty of it irresistibly expresses the presence of God's truth.”
The Pope also described how various artists themselves had observed the same in their own artwork. He recalled how the 20th century expressionist artist, Marc Chagall, once wrote “that for centuries painters have dipped their paintbrush in that colored alphabet that is the Bible.”