Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Renowned art historian to speak at benefit lecture for Eucharistic Congress

By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Executive Editor | Published April 4, 2018

ATLANTA—Elizabeth Lev, Ph.D., a noted art historian and dynamic speaker based in Rome, will give a lecture at an upcoming event to benefit the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s annual Eucharistic Congress. The event, set for Saturday, May 5, at 7 p.m. will be held at the Glen Memorial Sanctuary on the Emory University campus, 1652 North Decatur Road, Atlanta.

Lev, who studied at the University of Chicago and graduated in 1989, completed graduate work at University of Bologna in Northern Italy. She moved to Rome in 1997 to pursue her career there. She teaches art history at Duquesne University’s Italian campus. She has taught renaissance art at John Cabot University, Rome, and she is on the teaching staff at the Pontifical University of the Angelicum, Rome, and at Christendom College. She also gives cultural tours of Rome.

Lev has published numerous articles for First Things, Sacerdos and Inside the Vatican magazines, among others. She is the author or co-author of three books, “The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici,” “Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches” and “A Body for Glory: Theology of the Body in the Papal Collections: the Ancients, Michelangelo and John Paul II.”

Elizabeth Lev, Ph.D

A well-known speaker, Lev has presented a TED talk on “The unheard story of the Sistine Chapel” and has been interviewed on shows such as ABC’s Nightline and the Today Show. She was featured in the series, “Museum Secrets,” for Canada’s History Television, Brad Meltzer’s “Decoded” and was the host of “Catholic Canvas,” a 10-part television series on the art of the Vatican Museums, which aired on EWTN. In addition to these, Lev has been a keynote speaker at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s annual Fall Conference for several years and serves as a permanent research fellow for the center.

In a recent interview with The Georgia Bulletin, Lev discussed her current work in anticipation of her upcoming visit to Atlanta. She has just completed a book on what she called the Catholic Reformation, basically the period after the Protestant Reformation, the mid to late 16th century and early 17th century. She said the book is about how the “Protestant Reformation called into question a whole bunch of really fundamental Catholic beliefs.” She said during this time the “people start debating and wondering and looking for answers. Sometimes the tenor of the way people speak to each other becomes very strong, harsh, divisive and angry.”

Acknowledging that this divisiveness of the past seems very contemporary now, Lev said that the Catholic Church at that time realized that “while we’re talking about the sacred, we’re talking about sacraments and saints and salvation, we shouldn’t be taking belligerent, hostile tones. So … they actively recruited artists to put out our teaching, to put out what we believe, but in a beautiful, uniting way.”

Lev added, “So we can look at these things together, talk about them together, in presence of something beautiful, something that keeps us from screaming nasty names at one another.”

Lev said that her new book evolved from a series of articles she wrote for the online website Aleteia, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. While she was studying and working in this era of history, she has heard people calling each other heretics today. She said, “I’m thinking, why does this all sound so familiar? Because we did this 500 years ago.”

She began to think that if “we could try to recapture a little bit of what makes Catholics quite unique … if (we) try to put forward the beautiful, in so horrible a period, when everything is going wrong, you get an apparition of the Virgin Mary, or in the midst of the darkness and the horrors of a concentration camp, you get a Maximilian Kolbe. These extraordinary flashes of beauty that the Catholic Church puts forward, even in the darkness of the post war.”

Lev hopes to “present the sacraments in a way that helps people understand how precious they are … about the way that we can learn to respect the sacraments and encourage other people to respect the sacraments and our beliefs. But not by yelling at them and telling them they’re going to go to hell.”

Tickets for the lecture are $20 apiece. Special sponsorship packages are available for $500, with four reserved seats in one of the first five rows, an autographed copy of one of Lev’s books, and acknowledgment in the Eucharistic Congress sponsorship program.

For information on obtaining tickets, contact Mary Elkins at or 404-456-4285.