Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cardinal Schönborn Greets Foundation Members

On Thursday, February 4th, 2010, members of The Foundation for Sacred Arts had the privilege of meeting and presenting a gift to a notable hero in the culture wars, His Most Illustrious and Reverend Eminence, Christoph Cardinal von Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.

His Eminence, a Dominican Father and a modern-day "Thomas Aquinas," was the principal editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A prolific author, his publications include God’s Human Face: The Christ Icon, which investigates the theological foundations of iconography. His Eminence was in Washington, DC to celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew and then to speak in his office as the Grand Chancellor of the International Theological Institute at a dinner hosted at the Army and Navy Club, a prestigious "members only" club located at Farragut Square. Many notable ITI graduates, scholars, staff and theologians attended this event.

We were most fortunate to meet with His Eminence twice that evening -- briefly at the Cathedral after Mass, and later to make this Rosary presentation to him at the reception prior to dinner. On both occasions, he received us with great enthusiasm, interest and warmth. It was quite an experience, facilitated by our friend and supporter, John Henry Crosby, Founder of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, who is also an Advisory Board member to the Foundation.

Our gift to His Eminence was a traditional Dominican Rosary hand-crafted by Mary A.D. Petrino, a member of our Board of Directors. The Rosary, which includes the heavily-indulgenced Sterling silver "Pardon Crucifix" designed by Pope St. Pius X, features "Ave" beads of red flake jasper and snowflake obsidian beads, symbolizing his position as a prince of Holy Mother Church and as a member of the Order of Preachers. The first three "Ave" beads are rendered in lapis lazuli, bloodstone and red flake jasper, signifying the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. The "Paters" are handmade Sterling beads, designed to resemble the bishop's mitre; and the Sterling "Scapular" center medal features a carved image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel embossed on the reverse. Finally, the box illustrates the two great apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, appropriate to the office of the Cardinal.

Top image, left to right: Ann Marra, Executive Director; His Eminence Cardinal Schönborn; Mary Petrino, Board of Directors; Rachel Ross, Curator of Art. Bottom left: Foundation Member Mary Petrino presents the hand-crafted Rosary to Cardinal Schönborn. Bottom right: The hand-crafted Rosary presented to His Eminence.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Featured Work: Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity at Thomas Aquinas College

This past spring Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, dedicated the centerpiece of the campus of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. Designed by Duncan Stroik, a professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, the chapel draws its inspiration from the churches of Italian Renaissance architect Brunelleschi – designer of Florence's famous dome – from the Venetian churches of Palladio, and from the tradition of Spanish Mission churches of California. While drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, the chapel is a copy of no church, but a synthesis of all of them in a truly new work of art. The Chapel cost $23 million to construct and seats 375, but is large enough to hold the entire student body of 500 during important festivals in temporary seating. Twenty solid marble columns grace the nave and a bronze baldachino modeled on the centerpiece of St. Peter's Basilica surmounts the altar. To view more work by the architect, please click here.

Erik Bootsma
Curator of Architecture

Lessons in Iconography: The Palm Branch

We may be most familiar with the palm branch as a symbol of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. During the Church's liturgical celebration on that day, the faithful bear palm branches to herald Christ's kingship, mirroring the crowds that acclaimed him as the King of Israel on the first Palm Sunday. In ancient Rome, the palm branch was used as a symbol of victory; the Christians appropriated this image to symbolize the martyr, whose death, paradoxically, is his triumph.

In this way, the martyr's palm may be linked to the branches of Palm Sunday. As the crowds laid the palms before Christ, so the martyr lays down his life as an offering to Christ the King, proclaiming His glory. It is worthy of noting that, in Christ's time, the palm branch represented the nation of Israel, God's chosen people.

The images above - Fracesco del Cossa's Saint Lucy and El Greco's Madonna and Child with Saint Martina and Saint Agnes, both at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC - show these female saints holding a palm branch as a sign of their martyrdom.

Rachel Ross
Curator of Art

Successful Sacred Art Show Travels to DC

Nearly 100,000 visitors were drawn to an exhibition of sacred art which recently concluded at the National Gallery in London. This was triple the number of visitors expected. According to Curator Xavier Bray, it was "the immediacy of the images" that drew such a large number of people. "The images of Christ were very truthful, profound depictions; you were meeting the Virgin, Christ and the saints in a very direct way." In a crowded gallery, he said, "there was a wonderful sense of silence - awe-inspired people. I met a Sufi woman in tears.

"The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700, which will be housed at the National Gallery in Washington, DC from February 28th to May 31st, showcases major paintings by Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Francisco Pacheco, as well as painted and gilded sculptures by Gregorio Fernández, Juan Martínez Montañés, and Pedro de Mena, among others. Many of the sculptures have never before been exhibited away from their Spanish churches, convents, and monasteries. Click here to read the full article on the London show. For more information on the DC exhibition, please click here.

Sacred Arts Academy Summer Workshop in Florence

The Sacred Arts Academy is offering Catholic art students an intensive painting workshop in Florence June 10–July 3, 2010. Founded in 2009, the Academy seeks to respond to the call of the Second Vatican Council to establish a place of learning for Catholic artists to be trained. With a focus on both figurative and decorative arts in several media, it exists not only to teach technical expertise but also to foster in studying artists an understanding of art's deepest purpose and promise. Please visit their website for more information.

Message from the Executive Director

The Foundation has gained the attention of several prominent personalities, including Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, who recently wrote to the Foundation expressing his admiration for Anthony Visco, the artist we featured at a special exhibition this past October. We have also cultivated a positive correspondance with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, who wrote to us that "...The mission of stimulating a renewed interest in the patronage and production of Christian sacred art is a most noble mission, which is particularly important in our wholly secularized society. May God bless abundantly the apostolic work of The Foundation for Sacred Arts..."

Our blessings are evident as we continue to develop our programmatic outreach for 2010, and the Foundation is pleased to announce "Shadow, Image & Reality: The Church as Sacramental Building" a lecture by Dr. Denis R. McNamara offered Satuday, May 1st at St. Thomas a' Becket Catholic Church in Reston Virgina. Please visit the Events section of our website for more information. Ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Ann Marra
Executive Director