He is shown here with St. Mary whom he cared for after our Lord’s crucifixion (Jn 19:26, 27) at Ephesus in Turkey, the Isle of Patmos on the horizon where he was imprisoned and wrote Revelation.
He embraces his gospel to his heart in a manner that brings to mind the Cross and Passion of our Lord. His crossed arms also define the shape of a chalice (the sacred blood) and an hourglass, reminding us that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega.
Above the saint flies the eagle, John’s symbol of vision and highest inspiration. It carries away a serpent. Legend has it that Emperor Domitian once had the saint’s wine spiked with poison which miraculously turned into a snake and slithered out of the cup.
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, commissioned by Pastor Doug Halsema through Liturgical Consultant Dr. Steven Schloeder of Liturgical Environs PC
The saints are all directed towards the center of the Ambo, as though they are again listening to and reliving the truth and reality of Christ Jesus, that because of them and through them the gift of the Holy Spirit continues to live in us in the Liturgy of the Word.
Today October 18th is the Feast Day of St. Luke the Evangelist, patron saint of physicians and artists. And so I pay special homage to him with this wood sculpture.
Artistically I have tried through composition and subject matter to place St. Luke in the center of his mission. I have also attempted, in the style of this wood carving, to give a feeling of the harmony brought to him through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Luke was St. Paul’s companion and biographer and author of Acts of the Apostles, a continuation of his gospel. A gentile from Syria of Greek lineage (as indicated by the style of his hair and garments), he is juxtaposed to the winged ox, symbol of sacrifice, patient servitude and strength, and to the Parable of the Sower from his gospel (Lk 8:4-9)
The tempestuous backdrop witnesses to his shipwreck with Paul (Acts 27:13-42) and the many trials and tribulations he experienced struggling to keep pace with him on his missionary journeys. Luke holds his written witness in a book (gospel) that looks much like we might perceive a paperback because of the dynamics of his perilous travels with Paul.
Luke “studied the life and words of Jesus with utmost care, knew and relied upon witnesses to the actual events–including Mary and St. John–and devoted some time to speaking with the women who had traveled with Jesus. The Gospel [of Luke] is thus especially notable for the respect and attention it pays to women in the Church, in contrast to the role of women both in Jewish and pagan society…Luke stresses the mercy of God, documenting the merciful acts of Christ…Luke also devoted much attention–more than his fellow evangelists–to the interior life of prayer…” (OSV’s Encyclopedia of Catholic History, by Matthew Bunson, D.Min.)
“…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)
Artistically I have tried through composition and subject matter to place St. Peter in the center of his mission, striving in the style of the carving to impart a feeling of the harmony brought to him through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In his countenance as a man I have attempted to show his strength and vulnerability as well as the dynamic quality of his inspiration.
La Madre Dolorosa (Our Sorrowful Mother) is a high-relief wood carving expressing the agony of Jesus through his mother Mary: the betrayal by Judas, the arrest, torturous scourging, trial, carrying of the cross, crucifixion and death at Golgotha.
She contemplates the seven sorrows of her life, represented by the seven swords piercing her heart.