Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adé Bethune and the Church of St. Paulinus

Two artworks from Adé Bethune’s first official commission as a liturgical artist are currently featured in the exhibits, Adé Bethune: The Power of One Person, on view at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery and Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality in the Carondelet Center. One of these works is a full-size cartoon for the church’s stained glass rose window, the other is a sketch of five saints, which were painted in the church sanctuary.

Bethune's sketches of saints for the Church of St. Paulinus
Bethune is highly regarded for her work as an illustrator, writer, activist, and liturgical artist. Throughout her career, she acted as a designer/consultant on nearly 300 churches all over the world. The first of these was the Church of St. Paulinus in Clairton, Pennsylvania.

In 1936, the church pastor, Father Joseph Lonergan, commissioned Bethune to create several works for the church. He had seen her illustrations depicting the Stations of the Cross, which were published in the March 1935 issue of The Catholic Worker. Father Lonergan had a strong interest in Neo-Gothic works, so Bethune was a natural choice for these commissions. Her sketches depicting five saints is reminiscent of traditional Russian icons, with their dark outlines, bold colors and the use of gold leaf.

Bethune’s sketch for the painted panels of saints for the Church of St. Paulinus is on display at the Carondelet Center through November 10. Her cartoon for the stained glass window at St. Paulinus is on view at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery through December 19.

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