St. Peter the Apostle

“…and so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

St. Peter high relief wood sculpture by AVonnHartung
“St. Peter” wood sculpture high relief by AVonnHartung for St. Paul’s Catholic Church (Pensacola, Florida)

Artistically I have tried through composition and subject matter to place St. Peter in the center of his mission. I have strived to impart a feeling of the harmony brought to him through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In his countenance as a man I show his strength and vulnerability as well as the dynamic quality of his inspiration.

I express in Peter his great humanity by portraying the sensitive concern he has for his own emotional and idealistic vulnerability as well as his tight grip on the immense task laid upon him.

He is a man of our times, for he is still with us through the sacred succession of popes. I express this in the dome of  Saint Peter’s and columns of his basilica in the background.

His garments show him as a fisherman and a priest with both his hood and stola shown against the sea where he fished. He holds the shepherd’s staff with the first ambo from which Jesus preached, which was Peter’s boat. Also on the staff is planet earth, God’s sacred creation we call home.

Also emphasized are the keys to heaven and the Holy Spirit in the wind of his garments. He stands upon the rock of Christ’s church which I have placed emerging from the sea of time and human history, and resembling somewhat the surface of the human heart.


 This high relief wood sculpture (12-inches x 33-inches x 3-inches) is one of six saints carved by A.Vonn Hartung for the Ambo of  St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida. Pastor Doug Halsema commissioned these carvings, through Liturgical Consultant Dr. Steven Schloeder of Liturgical Environs.

The carvings considered as a group: Because Christ is present in His own word in proclaiming the Gospel the carved figures of the saints Peter, Paul and the Evangelists are all directed towards the center of the Ambo. It is as if they are again listening to and reliving the truth and reality of Christ Jesus. Because of them and through them the gift of the Holy Spirit continues to live in us in the Liturgy of the Word.

Here are large photos including a bi-lingual (Eng/Span) description of the Ambo and all six saints
A.Vonn Hartung_six saints wood carvings
Six Carved Saints is a video of the artist explaining the symbolism of the six carvings.


1 Response

  1. Vonn, Your work is stunningly beautiful. St. Peter is so lifelike and emotional. You are indeed blest. St. Paul’s Church is fortunate.

Leave a Reply