The Lectionary Art Series and copyright issues

The Lectionary Art Series is a set of  images images chosen to represent or complement the stories or themes / messages for a particular day's of readings and Propers, or a particular liturgical season.

It was developed because in a highly visual culture, people need to use images, alongside the printed word, the proclaimed work and music, to communicate messages from the Gospel and Christian teaching.

Because they are free-use, these images can be used in any way: projected, as bulletin inserts, in worship aids, banners, etc.

Each set of images is divided into three categories:
  • Classical - usually paintings of some age or historical importance
  • Contemporary - modern paintings, photographs and other similar images
  • Line art - simpler images, usually in black-and-white or one colour and with simple lines, which reproduce well when photocopied or projected in low-contract settings.

Sometimes the images presented are only a small sample of what is available. In other weeks, though, there may be difficulty in finding suitable images - and there may be times when no options are suggested in some categories.

Other tools for finding pictures and photographs for church use are listed here.

An index page for all lectionary art posts based on the Roman Catholic three-year Sunday lectionary is available here.

Are all the pictures copyright-free?

All pictures suggested in this series are intended to be "free-use".

This means that they are either public domain because the artist died a long time ago, or that the artist / creator has said that they may be freely used. In some cases, this permission may be for a limited set of uses, eg only with a church, or only for non-commercial purposes.

However I cannot guarantee that a picture you find here definitely is copyright-free:
  • The law is different in every country, so there can be cases where a work is in the public domain in some countries but not in others.
  • The pictures have been selected from image-sharing websites which say that they are copyright free.  But that was at the time the selection was made, which may have been several years ago.  The sources may have been updated since, and there are cases where have loaded images that they don't own to these sites.  This is particularly true for sites like Wikipedia, which has an extensive range of pictures, but can be edited by people anonymously.
  • The creator or artist may have changed their mind since originally making the picture available for use.
  • Even if an original painting etc is now copyright-free, to get it onto the internet, some has to make an "adapted work" from it by taking a photograph.   There can be legal issues with the copyright status of this work. Some museums, galleries etc say that electronic copies they make available are public domain, but some don't.

Because of this, for each image the original source and copyright information as at the time the picture was extracted are given, so you can decide whether it is safe to use it in your country and situation.

How to guarantee that you will not bread copyright when you use pictures

There are two main approaches to this.

One is to buy the right to images which you use from an image-sourcing company: this can give you access to a wide range of pictures, but can be expensive.

The other is to only use images which were created by a person who you know, who has signed a document giving you rights to use them.  This may be cheaper, but means you are restricted to using artists who are personally known, and who are willing to donate their services or provide them at a price your church can afford.  Probably the range of artworks available will be smaller.

Share this Post


HTML link code:

BB (forum) link code:

Subscribe to

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. All comments on this website are moderated, so there will be a delay until yours is shown. Deo gratias.