A few weeks ago our parish received two statues, one of St. Andre Bessette and one of Blessed Basil Moreau. These two statues were both hand carved and hand painted by a fantastic artist in Italy. The decision was made to commission these statues over a year ago as part of our parish’s capital campaign. It has been quite an interesting journey since then, working with the artist to get the look and style of the statues just right. The design process is not simply about getting the physical likeness of the Saint or Blessed correct, but also about capturing some of their character in the statue. The artist seeks to capture not only a physical likeness, but also some of the subject’s holiness in his or her work.
In many ways this process itself exemplifies why sacred art is so important in the life of the Church. Sacred art and architecture are not simply about aesthetic appeal or beauty, though those things are certainly important, but more importantly they are about fostering the devotional life of a faith community. This became clear as we began to discuss the possibility of commissioning these statues for our parish. Certainly they were a considerable expense and there was some discernment as to whether or not the expense was justifiable. We have other mosaics and statues in our Church that look nice, but the question was not whether or not the statues would look nice, but whether or not they would aid the parish in our growth toward holiness.
Now that they are here it is certainly my hope that these statues do just that. Certainly they add aesthetic value to our worship space, but more importantly they help our Holy Cross community share our spiritual devotion to our founder and to our first saint. Saint Andre’s statue exudes his gentle and faithful spirit and Blessed Basil’s statue communicates his intense zeal for the faith. More than just our Holy Cross charism, these two statues hold up men who are models of holiness in general and whose devotion, charity, and faithfulness have been held up by the Church as examples to follow. I hope that they will always help us reflect on our call to saintliness and inspire us to grow in holiness.
St. Andre Bessettepray for us
Blessed Basil Moreaupray for us.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame, and was ordained in 2013.