In an address made on December 17th, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the role of Mary, who is all beauty - ‘tota pulchra’ - in guiding us to the Way of Beauty - the 'via pulchritudinis'. Once again, and echoing John Paul II before him in his Letter to Artists, Benedict highlights the importance of art united to the liturgy and manifesting theology; and the importance of the formation of this art through dialogue between artists, liturgists and theologians.
‘I take advantage of this occasion to invite experts in theology and Mariology to follow the via pulchritudinis, and I hope that, also in our days, thanks to a greater collaboration between theologians, liturgists and artists, incisive and effective messages can be offered to the admiration and contemplation of all.’
The full text of the address is here
He also suggests that to this end we should contemplate two images. First the apse of St Mary Major (above and in larger form right at the bottom). A virtual tour of the church is available here. Secondly he points us to the mosaics at Santa Maria in Trastevere. Two are shown below. They are gothic in style from the 13th century (the annunciation is by Pietro Cavallini)