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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, October 11, 2010

APB for Sister Wendy

Whenever we do a patron saint matching, the flood gates open! Prepare for a couple more days of the big saint parade.

Well, son-of-a-gun, who knew?! No wonder the one time (never tried again) I asked St. Cecilia to intervene, nothing happened... Very cool story about St. Hildegard! Yep, she's gotta be a saint.

NOW, is there a similar powerful saint for the visual arts (i.e. painters, potters and graphic artists)?? Sure need some help with that one!Traditionally, the patron saint of artists is St. Luke, the Evangelist.  I've always felt a little sad recommending him, along the lines of St. Cecilia. Supposedly, St. Luke painted a portrait of Mary. And you know? That just didn't happen.  Particularly amusing is the big old oil painting rendition of what Luke painted, often parked in the background of his holy card.

I think St. Luke is a wonderful patron saint for writers. That's a no-brainer.

But for artists, I'm going with Fra Angelico, an actual artist. And a very prolific one.  Calling Sister Wendy!

Fra Angelico began painting in the Gothic era of painting, but was still at it at the dawn of the Renaissance. He was a Dominican friar, and although he was offered promotions, remained a humble friar his entire life.

As an artist, though, he was anything but a shrinking violet. He was actually famous during his own lifetime and painted for the impossibly wealthy, for chapels and shrines and churches. He started out as a manuscript illustrator and ended up painting for the Vatican. 
He made some interesting artistic leaps. Where's Sister Wendy when we need her? One of his most famous paintings, The Coronation of Mary, depicts all of Heaven all together in the same place.  That was a new concept, saints standing around talking about the days events together.

Not that are days in Heaven. There is no time in Heaven, even though there is a Coronation Day.

If you clomp around and look at his works, you'll find you can tell the difference, without even being Sister Wendy, between when he was painting for a wealthy client (which includes the Vatican) or not. The big commissions are in brilliant color and the small ones in muted hues.  That's because blue paint and gold leaf and all that color was wildly expensive at the time.  I recently posted one of his paintings while talking about St. Lawrence, patron saint of the humorless, or more specifically, patron saint to needle the humorless. You can tell right away it was a pricey work.

He also did frescoes. Very lovely.

Fra Angelico isn't a full on saint yet.  He's "Blessed", which means he is worthy of our veneration. He is, however, the official patron saint of artists.

You really didn't need me after all.


Marion Teague said...

Thank you for reminding me of Sister Wendy Beckett - whose little TV programmes were awesome (to use an Americanism). I heard she declined to do more TV as she wanted to focus on her vocation and spiritual life. Our loss.

Angela Catirina said...

Thank you so much for bringing the paintings of Fra Angelico to my attention. I'm going to look for some books on his work to learn more. Oh!....and Sister Wendy is such a delight. So many of us hold her in a special place in our hearts - as you, Sister Mary Martha. xoxo

Rosanne Dingli said...

The legend of St Luke painting the Virgin has its basis in some very intriguing pictures painted in Byzantine times. Spooky and engaging, they seem to tell a story about the evangelist we have little knowledge of. This is what I write about in According to Luke, a romantic thriller that gives away one of the biggest secrets you have ever read in a novel. Who WAS Saint Luke really?