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In the preface to his Septem sacramenta (1878–1884), Franz Liszt acknowledged its stimulus — drawings completed in 1862 by the German painter J. F. Overbeck (1789–1869). This essay explores what Liszt likely meant by his and Overbeck’s “diametrically opposed” approaches and speculates on why the composer nonetheless acknowledged the artist’s work. Each man adopted an individualized treatment of the sacraments, neither in line with the Church’s neo-Thomistic philosophy. Whereas the Church insisted on the sanctifying effects of the sacraments’ graces, Overbeck emphasized the sacraments as a means for moral edification, and Liszt expressed their emotional effects on the receiver. Furthermore, Overbeck embedded within his work an overt polemical message in response to the contested position of the pope in the latter half of the nineteenth century. For many in Catholic circles, he went too far. Both works experienced a problematic reception. Yet, despite their works’ reception, both Overbeck and Liszt believed they had contributed to the sacred art of their time. The very individuality of Overbeck’s treatment seems to have stimulated Liszt. True to his generous nature, Liszt, whose individual voice often went unappreciated, publicly recognized an equally individual voice in the service of the Church.

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able to name at least five out of the seven sacraments. Finally, religious knowledge “about topical issues” – names of the current Church representatives – is situated within the range from 39.0% to 86.2%. Most often, the young people know the name of

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