Church paintings

Catholic Church paintings, “retablos” and murals

Forever Young, Siempre Joven, Christ Among Us

A 27 sq ft work of art by A.VonnHartung for the students of Colegio (High School) San Juan Bosco at Parroquia Maria Auxiliadora, Cantera, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Párroco Padre Colacho SDB).

Commissioned by the Director and Theology Professor, Padre Jorge Santiago SDB .

Was installed in the main hallway of the school on the Feast Day of San Juan Bosco 31 January 2017.

The painting expresses an Epiphany of Faith, Joy, Love of Community and Learning, so much evident in the Christ-filled spirit of the school.

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La pintura expresa una Epifanía de Fe, Alegría, Amor a la Comunidad y Aprendizaje, tan evidente en el espíritu lleno de Cristo de la escuela.

Director of School Padre Jorge Antonio Santiago SDB with artist Arturo Vonn Hartung and Felix “Junior” Rodriguez

Stations of Mercy

With great joy I share the news of this booklet recently published by the Catholic Truth Society (Publishers to the Holy See), “Stations of Mercy with Pope Francis” by Amette Ley ©2016, illustrated with my paintings of the Stations of the Cross, commissioned in 2001 by Mons. Antonio “Tito” José Vázquez for Parroquia Santa Rosa de Lima in Guaynabo (Barrio Amelia), Puerto Rico, blessed in 2002 by our Archbishop Mons. Roberto González Nieves OFM.

Booklet by Amette Ley published by Catholic Truth Society©2016 with paintings by AVonnHartung
Booklet by Amette Ley published by Catholic Truth Society©2016 with Stations of the Cross paintings by AVonnHartung
Jesus takes up his cross, ViaCrucis station 2 painting by A.Vonn Hartung
The book cover image is a detail of the second Station of the Cross painting (Jesus takes up His Cross)

Here is the description of this booklet from the Catholic Truth Society website:

“A journey with Pope Francis along the well known Stations of Christ’s passion to discover at every step the boundless and life giving mercy of God. Each Station is accompanied by a brief scripture passage and pertinent words of Pope Francis, giving his own particular insights into mercy. These themes of forgiveness and mercy, so important during the Year of Mercy, are readily absorbed by way of this simple and long-standing devotion.”

The Catholic Truth Society is a non-profit company which has been publishing booklets for the Holy See since 1868.

I give thanks for this Blessing and Honor!

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Doors of Mercy

Commissioned by the Archbishop of San Juan, S.E.R. Monseñor Roberto González Nieves for the arch above the main doors of Catedral San Juan Bautista in San Juan, Puerto Rico to commemorate Pope Francis’ declared Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy 2015-2016.

Cristo Abriendo Las Puertas de Misericordia_AVonnHartung
                                                     Painting by A.Vonn Hartung

Our Merciful Christ opens the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness to all who pass through them with repentant hearts.

The waves bow down to our Lord as when He calmed the Sea of Galilee, also representing the Island of Puerto Rico as well as Earth “Our Common Home“, an Island in the vast darkness and empty space of the endless universe which surrounds us.

The Doors open onto the paradise that is Heaven, the reward of all the faithful and repentant souls.

Christ Opening the Doors of Mercy at Catedral San Juan Bautista
Christ Opening the Doors of Mercy at Catedral San Juan Bautista
Installing painting at Catedral San Juan Bautista



And they saw the tomb was empty…(Mark 16)

When Jesus was resurrected, becoming for us The Christ, in that moment the world was changed for his believers forever! Earth burst into blossom. Earth glowed with light in the deep dark night of time. Everything, all creation was illuminated with divine light, hope.


And they saw the tomb was empty_ViaLucis1_painting on glass by AVonnHartung
And they saw the tomb was empty

The intense color is meant to bring this miraculous change into our consciousness. The colors are super infused with hue. Each color becomes the heightened essence of itself. To the uninformed eye these “stained glass” windows on the Resurrection might look fantasia-like. They’re meant to be however,  simple in form and basic in color.


"Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Jesus" ViaLucis2 painting on glass by AVonnHartung
Mary Magdalene encounters the risen Jesus

The figures show emotion in their gestures, their exaggerated movements. This is to show that reality was turned on its head.

Something so unbelievable had occurred that it changed consciousness forever. The world became full of hope, full of meaning because death had lost its power, its grip on humanity. Hallelujah! He has risen!

"After the Resurrection Jesus appears to the women" ViaLucs3 painting on glass by AVonnHartung
After the Resurrection Jesus appears to the women

These 14 Stations of the Resurrection (Via Lucis) adorn the upper reaches of the nave of Capilla San Juan Bosco in Orocovis (Barrio Gato), Puerto Rico. They were commissioned by Padre Jorge Santiago Cartagena, SDB. Twelve similar windows were also commissioned by Padre Jose Luis Gómez, SDB for the church San Juan Bosco in Villa Palmeras, San Juan.

In 1998 Father Sabino Palumbieri, Salesian priest and professor of theological anthropology in Rome, “proposed the creation of a new set of stations [to complement the Stations of the Cross] centered upon the resurrection and the events following it so as to emphasize the positive hopeful aspect of the Christian story which, though not absent from the Stations of the Cross, is obscured by their emphasis upon suffering. The first major public celebration of this devotion was in 1990…”
It was officially sanctioned by the Vatican in 2001. (From Wikipedia-“Stations of the Resurrection”)

Contemplative Images for Holy Week

View a video of these Stations of the Cross, accompanied by sacred music

View video The Passion of our Lord

Ver video La Pasión de nuestro Señor


Read in Spanish

 The reason for the use of Sacred Art in the Church is to make visible what is invisible, to bring us to a more heightened state of awareness and connection with God and His Saints that we might share more fully in His Glory and Love for us, that we might go forth and DO HIS WILL.

Sacred Places of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection have always been venerated – early pilgrims retraced the Way of the Cross. So it was that the pilgrims brought back from The Holy Land the idea of recreating those sacred places and events to share with the faithful of their home churches.

It is said that Saint Francis of Assisi began the practice of the Stations of the Cross. It then spread throughout Italy and Europe. It was his practice to reproduce in a realistic way the events of our Lord’s life and deeds (an example, is his reported installation of the stable and manger with live animals and people in commemoration of the birth of Jesus).

In a similar way I conceived these Stations of the Cross to bring immediacy to the Passion of our Lord.

Each one measures 4-ft x 8-ft. This is because of the cavernous size and interior simplicity of the nave of the church, Santa Rosa de Lima, in the town of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  Intimacy was achieved by the use of local people as models and customs, so that the faithful might better identify with the trials that Our Lord and Savior suffered and died for because of His Love for us.


Jesus is condemned to death. ViaCrucis Station 1 painting by AVonnHartung

Here we see Jesus, centered, surrounded by many but COMPLETELY alone, only those admitted from the status quo on both sides (although we see Flavia, wife of Pilate and perhaps Nicodemus who represent a small group of inside sympathizers).

In the midst of a crowded room He is a lonely figure. All signs point to Him, the columns, the center aisle and all who gesture, single Him out in accusation. He is The One! The cause of all their troubles, indignation and hatred! He must DIE!


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Our Lady of Guadalupe with St. Juan Diego

"Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe with St. Juan Diego" painting by AVonnHartung
“Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe with St. Juan Diego” painting by AVonnHartung

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and Empress of the Americas…today December 12, the day that she left her image imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma. (translation from La Palabra Entre Nosotros)

This painting also celebrates St. Juan Diego, whose Feast Day is December 9th.

In 2003 I was commissioned by Parroquia San Ignacio (9:30 Community) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to paint “Our Lady of Guadalupe with St. Juan Diego” to be given as a gift to Father Donald Vega SJ, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary as a priest. (She is his personal patron saint)

I added a personal detail by including his dog Luigi in the foreground. Luigi and Lola were orphaned dogs taken in by Father Vega. They would lie down before the altar and in the first pew everyday as he celebrated mass.

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Here is a brief history of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Spanish translation follows

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El Buen Pastor / The Good Shepherd

On Sunday we celebrated “The Good Shepherd”

 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them. They follow me and I give them eternal life… (Jn 10:27)


El Buen Pastor/Good Shepherd painting by A.VonnHartung
El Buen Pastor / Good Shepherd painting by A.VonnHartung

When Padre Jaime Vázquez commissioned this painting, “El Buen Pastor / The Good Shepherd”, as part of my research I visited Ochoa Agrícola (agricultural store) in Caguas, Puerto Rico. They have scores of sheep, mostly lambs and yearlings.

I worked among them getting close-up sketches and the feel of them.

It is such an important part of bringing what we paint to life, to know as much as possible the essence of what it is we are making visible, which in reality is merely a thin film of paint on a two-dimensional canvas.


Closeup detail of painting “El Buen Pastor” (4 x 8-feet) by AVonnHartung, commissioned by Padre Jaime Vázquez Rojas in 2003 for “Parroquia El Buen Pastor” in Guaynabo (Apolo), Puerto Rico



AVonnHartung with his painting ElBuenPastor

Stations of the Cross

THESE STATIONS OF THE CROSS paintings show the process of conversion as Jesus was put to the test and tormented. Indeed, his persecutors came to understand who he was.

[Spanish translation follows]

Accordingly, the stations express a perspective that emphasizes the effect Jesus had on those present during his ordeal of carrying his own cross to his crucifixion on Calvary. Specifically, as the bystanders are pulled into his suffering we follow by observing closely, the actual Revelatory conversion of the principal Roman soldier.  Moreover, we see how the outpouring of grief and compassion of others around him begin to melt away his own cruelty and indifference.

Jesus takes up his cross, ViaCrucis station 2 painting by A.Vonn Hartung

See how he marvels at the deep and complete faith of Veronica as she wipes the face of our Lord. Furthermore, others also are going through the steps of conversion from confusion and despair to an awakening clarity. Significantly, we see this most clearly in the others behind Veronica.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.ViaCrucis station 6 painting by A.VonnHartung

Thus we understand how the soldier at the foot of the cross could finally come to the realization that they had indeed crucified “The Son of God”.  (Mk 15:39)


 About the paintings

The artist painted these Stations of the Cross for Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Guaynabo (Barrio Amelia), Puerto Rico.  In fact, he conceived them with the community in mind. Moreover they include much of the spiritual and cultural qualities of Puerto Rico. Each Station measures 4-ft by 8-ft, painted in acrylic and gilded in copper and gold. They surround and crown the nave of the church.

Read More about these paintings

View contemplative video of these Stations of the Cross

See video The Passion of our Lord

Ver video La Pasión de nuestro Señor


Commissioned by Padre Antonio “Tito” José Vázquez

Photos by Greger Norrevik


Las pinturas de estas ESTACIONES DE LA CRUZ muestran el proceso de conversión cuando Jesús fue puesto a prueba y atormentado. Sus perseguidores llegaron a comprender quién era.

De hecho, las estaciones expresan una perspectiva que hace hincapié en el efecto que Jesús tuvo en los presentes durante su terrible experiencia de llevar su propia cruz a su crucifixión en el Calvario. A medida que los transeúntes son arrastrados a su sufrimiento, seguimos observando de cerca la conversión Revelatoria real del principal soldado romano. Vemos cómo el torrente de dolor y compasión de los que le rodean comienzan a disipar su propia crueldad e indiferencia.

Jesus takes up his cross, ViaCrucis station 2 painting by A.Vonn Hartung

Vea cómo se maravilla de la fe profunda y completa de Verónica mientras limpia el rostro de nuestro Señor. Otros también están pasando por los pasos de conversión de la confusión y la desesperación a una claridad que despierta, como se ve más visiblemente en los otros detrás de Verónica.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.ViaCrucis station 6 painting by A.VonnHartung

Así entendemos cómo el soldado al pie de la cruz pudo finalmente darse cuenta de que habían crucificado al “Hijo de Dios”. (Marcos 15:39)


Acerca de las pinturas

Estas Estaciones de la Cruz fueron pintadas para la Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima en Guaynabo (Barrio Amelia), Puerto Rico. El artista los concibió con la comunidad en mente e incluyen gran parte de las cualidades espirituales y culturales de Puerto Rico. Cada estación mide 4 pies por 8 pies, pintada en acrílico y dorada en cobre y oro. Se rodean y coronan la nave de la iglesia.

Leer más acerca de estas pinturas

Ver videos contemplativos—

Stations of the Cross

 The Passion of our Lord

 La Pasión de nuestro Señor


Encargo del Padre Antonio “Tito” José Vázquez

Fotos por Greger Norrevik