Sacred Art in Puerto Rico

On the Road to Sainthood

This Saturday April 29th we celebrate the 16th anniversary of “Blessed Charlie’s” Beatification by His Holiness St. John Paul II.

One more miracle will qualify him for Sainthood.

Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago portrait by AVonnHartung_at Pontifical North American College Vatican
Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Santiago

In 2001 I was deeply honored and humbled to be commissioned by the archbishop of San Juan, Monsignor Roberto González Nieves, to paint the official portrait of Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, to be given as a gift from Puerto Rico to the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City where it is exhibited in the Hall of Saints.

I was subsequently interviewed by EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network)

 

At the core of Blessed Carlos’ spirituality (Pope John Paul II  said) was his faith in the Resurrection. He promoted the Easter Vigil as the defining moment of Christian spiritual life, repeating often, “We live for that Night.” (Vivimos para esa Noche)

Learn more about Blessed “Charlie” and this portrait

Contemplative Images for Holy Week

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

 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” 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.

Here is a brief history of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Spanish translation follows

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“The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist”

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.” (John 1:6-8, 23)
 

Today as the Catholic Church commemorates the Feast Day of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, I present this mosaic mural which depicts his life and prophecy in the sanctuary of Parroquia San Juan Bautista in the central mountain town of Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

"The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist" mosic mural by AVonnHartung in Orocovis, Puerto Rico
“The Life and Prophecy of St. John the Baptist” mosaic mural byAVonnHartung in Orocovis, Puerto Rico

Conceived in three arches which represent the Holy Trinity, the story of St. John the Baptist is expressed across time in the sanctuary of Christ’s church and includes the priest and congregation today in the fulfillment of sacred liturgy. When viewed from the rear of the Church during Mass, the servers and congregation are seen as completing the work of art.

Traducción español más abajo

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