Painting in the vestibule of St. Leo's
The work of the late Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ, “The Strangers We Meet” depicts Christ breaking bread at Emmaus. Instead of more traditional representations, it depicts Christt as a man of African descent, sitting with people of various ages and from various ethnic heritages. All the models were St. Leo parishioners.
“Fr. Jim captured spiritual life in his works, revealing the sacredness in everyday people and everyday actions,“ says Fr. Josephh Folzenlogen, SJ, who lived and worked with the priest painter at Claver Jesuit Ministries in South Cumminsville (OH). “Jim’s paintings were mirrors in which people could see their own beauty.”
Models for the 2004 painting were Timaya Smith (the child in the foreground), Amy Egan, Darnell Edwards, Ivy Peppers, and Rick Nohle.
“Since Jim used people from the parishes and neighborhoods where he worked as his models, the paintings were not just images,” says Fr. Joe. “They were connections with people he loved. Those people were also his children.”
St. Leo parishioner Stephanie Sepate describes the painting as “a beautiful remembrance of purpose” in every life.
“In the upper left of our painting is the figure of the angel by the tomb of the Risen Lord, and the women running to share the news,” she says. “What a beautiful remembrance of purpose in each of our lives — we are not really strangers to each other but we are all one universal family in our life’s journey.”
Fr. Jim Hasse, whose paintings appeared in several publications and are held in private collections, including the art museum at St. Louis University, died in 2011. Most of his paintings are of biblical subjects and feature African-American people he worked with. To see several galleries of his works with associated reflections, click here.
A New Life
Michelangelo sculpted the Pietà in 1498–1499, taking less than two years to complete. His depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion on the rock of Golgatha is one of the most famous pieces of sculpture known by so many across the world.
Showing the "religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son", Michelangelo did not want his version of the Pietà to represent death, but rather a representation of the communion between man and God through Christ’s gift of life.
For the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Vatican loaned the Pietà for installation in the Vatican pavilion. A conveyor belt moved people, who stood in line for hours, past the sculpture. It is housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.
Several decades ago, St. Leo was gifted with a beautiful representation of the Pietà in memory of the Schuchart Family. Over the years, the wear and tear, fragments of the more fragile areas of the statue cracked or missing, and chipping paint called a friend of the parish to totally refurbish our Pietà. To repaint it with its former colors would have shown the flaws; it was decided to paint it all one color, especially in keeping with the make-up of our parish—all one people. After months and months of prayerful restoration, our Pietà finally came home, quite appropriately, the day before Ash Wednesday.
As we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we are grateful for Michelangelo’s reminder of the ultimate gift in our midst. The St. Leo Pietà has been given a new life; let us all celebrate a season of renewal in our own lives as Lent ends and as we rejoice in the hope and joy of Easter’s Alleluias!
- Stephanie Sepate