Liturgical Art

The process of resurrection

Recently the passage of time was brought to my attention in a new way. I was approached by someone who was seeking information about the disposal of an old sacramental; specifically, a crucifix. We started talking about the item in question, which is about three feet tall and usually hung on a wall. She stated that she really didn’t want to throw it away, that some plaster work and paint were probably all that was needed to repair the chips and nicks suffered by the corpus over the decades. "By chance Sister Karen" she wondered, "do you know anyone who does that kind of work?" I told her that I would ask around.

The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum concilium tells us that “Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest activities of man's genius, and this applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. These arts, by their very nature, are oriented toward the infinite beauty of God which they attempt in some way to portray by the work of human hands.”

It didn’t take long before the human hands needed for the job presented themselves, attached to the limbs of one of our novices. Knowing that she had a preference for drawing but was exploring clay and other mediums as part of her Art as Meditation experience during the canonical year, I asked if she was interested in using those hands to repair a rather large crucifix. Sight unseen she gave a quick "yes”.

Certainly Sacrosanctum concilium didn’t have YouTube in mind when it anticipated “changes in materials, style, or ornamentation prompted by the progress of the technical arts with the passage of time”. None the less, that’s where our novice went to learn the basics of plaster restoration and related paint techniques.

The work has now been completed and the crucifix returned to its home, to its “purpose of redounding to God’s praise and glory.”

Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God – Rule of Benedict 43:3

References:
Sacrosanctum concilium §122
Restoration and photos by Sister Jen Frazer, OSB

Preparation
A work in progress
The glory of God