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Kiko Argüello

Francisco (Kiko) José Eduardo Argüello (born January 9, 1939) is a Spanish artist and, together with Carmen Hernandez, co-initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way. Argüello was born in León, He studied fine arts under Pablo Picasso at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid and in 1959 was awarded a Special National Prize for Painting. In 1964, he begun what would become the Neocatechumenal Way in the slum of Palomeras Altas in Madrid.

On May 13, 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Degree by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.The institute underlined "the strong commitment of the Neocatechumenal Way on family issues" by its emphasis on "the experience of the 'domestic celebration' with which it sends families on a mission." It also pointed out the value of the lay group's "promotion, together with other ecclesiastical organizations, of major initiatives in support of the family," especially the "Family Day in Italy and the 2007 Feast of the Holy Family in Madrid[1]


Crisis and Conversion

After a profound existential crisis, he embarked on a serious conversion that made him dedicate his life to Jesus and to the Church.

Convinced that Christ is present in the suffering of the poorest of people, Argüello took his guitar and Bible and left to live in the slums of Madrid, following the path of Charles de Foucauld. He abandoned his studies and painting as a career, to go and live amongst the poor, building for himself a wooden shack in Palomeras Altas, on the outskirts of Madrid.

The Origins

Later on, Kiko encountered Carmen Hernández, a graduate in Chemistry and Theology. Thanks to the liturgist Father Farnés Schrerer, they got in touch with the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council and the centrality of the Easter Vigil. Inspired by the environment in which the poor were living, they encountered a form of predication that led them to the formation of a small Christian Community. This first community was mainly composed of Gypsies, illiterates, vagabonds, prostitutes, unemployed people who were drawn by the discovery of the love Christ had for them despite their sins.

Through more contact with other parishes embracing different standards of living, little by little a Way of Christian initiation was begun for adults who were rediscovering the promises of their Baptism.

Kiko Argüello and the Neocatechumenal Way today

After more than thirty years of work in more than a hundred countries, this Neocatechumenate was recognized by Pope John Paul II as an "itinerary of Catholic Formation, valid for our society and for our times.[2]" Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and an Italian Priest, Father Mario Pezzi are presently the international team of responsibles for the Neocatechumenal Way worldwide. The statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way were approved ad experimentum for a period of 5 years in June 2002. The Statutes, with minimal changes,[3] were given final approval by the Church on June 13, 2008.[4] Today the Neocatechumenal way is present in more than 110 countries in all the six continents, in nearly 900 dioceses, and in around 8,000 parishes with more than 30,000 communities, 19,000 of which are found in Europe, 10,000 of which are in Italy.

Architecture, paintings and the liturgy

Throughout the years, Kiko Argüello painted a large number of religious paintings, in several cities and localities, cathedrals and Churches. He is also a psalmist, composing well over one hundred and eighty songs of a religious nature, for use within the Neocatechumenal Way celebrations and liturgies. Thus an aesthetic renewal has taken place through paintings, architecture, music, songs and liturgical ornaments. In Rome, Kiko has painted huge murals in the crypt of the Church dedicated to the Canadian Martyrs (Ascension of Our Lord in Heaven); in the Church of Saint Frances Cabrini (Holy Trinity) and also in its crypt and in the Church of Saint Louis Gonzaga (The Apparition of the Risen Christ to Saint Thomas). In Porto San Giorgio, the centre of the Neocatechumenal Way, near to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto, the International Centre for the New Evangelisation has been built according to Argüello's design. He has also set up a huge cross and an abstract painting of the Creation. He has also designed many of the 64 Redemptoris Mater Seminaries, especially that of Newark and Denver (USA), Rome and Macerata (Italy), as well as the Neocatechumenal Centre in Madrid, amongst others.

In Florence, he has painted the "Corona Misterica", behind the altar of the Church of Saint Bartholomew in Tuto and has designed, together with the Italian architect Alberto Durante, a Catechumenium (a structure encompassing several halls, intended to hold liturgies by the Neocatechumenal Communities and the Diocese).

In the Parish of the Holy Trinity in Piacenza, he has painted one of the largest murals in the world (500 square metres). It represents the Glory of Christ Pantokrator, Resurrected on a golden background. It was inaugurated in the presence of the local Bishop, an official of the Orthodox Church of Moscow and three Eastern Patriarchs.

Interior of the Almudena Cathedral

In Madrid, Kiko has also designed the architecture of various Cathecumeniums and has painted different themes in the Parishes of El Transito (The dormition of Our Lady), of Saint Joseph (The Transfiguration), of La Paloma (he designed and painted the chapel dedicated to Pentecost) and in Saint Catherine Laboure (where he designed the architecture of the church together with the German architect Gottfried Klaiber), he painted the Story of Salvation on a golden background all around the temple. Additionally, in the parish of Saint Frontis of Zamora, he painted a round mural depicting the Birth of Jesus, His Baptism and His Resurrection.

The church of the Holy Family of Nazareth Parish in Oulu, built by the Neocatechumenal Way. February 2006

In Finland, in the city of Oulu, he designed, together with the Swiss architect Gabriele Geronzi, the first parish church in a zone where no one had ever established the presence of the Roman Catholic Church before.

Also in Israel, he designed, together with a team of architects (Antonio Abalos and Guillermo Soler, Spanish; Mattia Del Prete, Italian and the above mentioned Gottfried Klaiber), the grand building of the Domus Galilaeae (centre of biblical formation and a place to receive pilgrims to the Holy Land), where he recently has finished the painting showing the Final Judgement, that decorates the church of this new building.

Just before to the royal wedding of the Crown Prince Felipe of Spain, Kiko was commissioned by the Cardinal and Bishop to paint the interior of the Almudena Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Madrid and to replace the stained glass windows in time for the said wedding, in 2004. This work has turned out to be controversial, since it had been previously assigned by an open international call to the artist Manuel Ortega in January, 1988.[5] Another issue arose when identical copies of the icons were found in a church in Arroyo Hondo, near Santo Domingo[6]. Kiko is the original artist and his work was duplicated in both the Cathedral and in said church. Those paintings, and many others, have been reproduced in many seminaries, churches and in the Domus Galilaeae Center.


External references



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