The first journals devoted to sacral art appeared in Europe in the 19th century. They appeared with varying frequency, with many going out of existence after just a few issues; some underwent a metamorphosis, after a certain break they were published under an altered title and with a slightly differently profiled agenda. However, the specificity of the articles published in the pages of these periodicals is always underscored by the religious character, or even the metaphysical element, that determines the artistic current associated with faith.
Some of the journals devoted to sacral art played a particularly important role in its development. These include the French magazine L’Art sacré (1935–1968). In the first years after the war, its pages featured a lively discussion on the subject of the author’s relationship to his work in the context of religious beliefs and practices. The final conclusions of this debate, which permitted the participation of outstanding artists in the creation of sacral art, but distanced it from religion, have borne fruit in excellent realizations in both architecture and performing arts. The monthly “Fede e Arte. Rivista internazionale di arte sacra”, published in 1953–1967 by the Vatican’s Pontificia commissione centrale per l’arte sacra, had much greater importance, going beyond the boundaries of local national culture. This periodical has contributed to the renewal of sacral art in the conciliar spirit, initiating the cooperation of theologians and liturgists with contemporary artists. The ideas propagated and popularized by “Fede e Arte” found resonance not only in Italy, but radiated throughout the entire Christian world, resonating in numerous artistic realizations. Among the Polish scientific journals and popular scientific magazines, this subject appeared ephemerally (“Friend of Church Art” 1883–1885, “Sacred Art” 2002–2006), paradoxically finding no audience in the notoriously Catholic country.
In giving to the readers the jubilee – tenth volume of the annual “Sacrum et Decorum. Materials and studies on the history of sacral art”, the editors hope that the journal will settle permanently on the Polish publishing market. The first two articles, by Michał Haake and Katarzyna Chrudzimska-Uhera, concern the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. Analysing these events and related artistic activities undertaken in Poznań and Warsaw in the field of architecture, performing arts and occasional decorations, both researchers indicate the need for in-depth elaboration of this issue, which is all the more interesting as signs of “image wars” waged by the communist state with the Church can be found within it. The theme of the Millennium is inextricably linked in art with the presence of threads drawn from the history of Poland, which functioned in sacral interiors, of course, long before. These issues were addressed in articles by Maria Nitka and Joanna Wolańska, who focused their analyses on – respectively – the Illustrated Polish Bible of Leopold Nowotny and the decorations of the church at Kahlenberg created in the first half of the 20th century. Issues connected with a specific national-religious manifestation, which appeared in multi-ethnic Łódź at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries around the construction of the St Stanislaus Kostka church, are discussed in the text by Krzysztof Stefański. The volume is closed by Dorota Kudelska’s extensive article about religious art presented in the Wiener Secession and Hagenbund, and thus deals with problems related to the issue of sacral art exhibitions, which have so far been absent in our journal. This text is also a preview of the leading theme in the next volume of “Sacrum et Decorum”.