Using Artistic Images to teach St. Augustine's Confessions: Instructors Guide


There are two Augustinian churches that have interesting artistic images of the life of St. Augustine (St. Augustine's Church in San Gimignano, Italy, and St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University).  The purpose of this website is to help faculty members employ these images in teaching Confessions.  The general homepage has a link for both tours, as well as links for the individual scenes from each church.  Please send comments, suggestions, or corrections.


Suggested uses.


1. Web tour of San Gimignano frescoes.  The San Gimignano website offers a brief summary of St. Augustine’s life.  It might be a useful introduction for students before they read any of the texts.


2. In-person tour of the images of the life of St. Augustine in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church, using the study guide for instructors.  By coincidence this study guide was produced just as UnIT was producing a more comprehensive website on all of the religious art on campus. I collaborated with that production as well, but I have kept this version since it has more specific references to Confessions. At least for Villanova faculty members, my suggestion would be to have students meet in the church for their class to view and discuss the images. The web tour of St. Thomas Church is could be used to provide background for the instructor. The church is usually open, but it is best to email Campus Ministry or call in advance to let them know you will be coming.  I suggest you also review the official and more detailed tour of all of the images St. Thomas Church, in case the students have other questions about the other art work. 


3. Paper prompts.


There are three scenes that provide interesting comparisons between the windows, frescoes, and the text of Confessions.  These might provide interesting paper subjects for student writing: 

Since all of these images are based on readings of Confessions, it might be interesting to ask students to think about how the artists interpret the text in different ways.  It might also be helpful to ask them to begin, before they see the artistic images, to visualize the scene in their own minds. 


Author: John Immerwahr
Update: June 24, 2008