Art is a means of encountering the resurrected Christ. It is through Him, with Him, and in Him that our fullness dwells. Listen, as through the art of the St. Benedict Center Our Lord calls, "Come, follow Me." (Mt 19:21)
The Walk to Emmaus Mural
The disciples walk the road to Emmaus and Jesus opens the Scriptures to them, revealing Himself in the breaking of the bread. "Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke?" (Lk 24:32) It is the prayer of the Missionary Benedictine Monks of Christ the King Priory that all have an Emmaus experience while visiting the St. Benedict Center. Painted by Josef Mahler of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia.
The Missionary Benedictine Monks follow the command of Christ to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Mt 28:16-20). The arts and crafts of the various countries give a glimpse of the cultures of these people and show the deep respect given to each culture by the Missionary Benedictines, as they care for the minds, bodies, and souls of all people.
The veneration of Mary is truly a way of drawing closer to Jesus. Mary’s words are for all followers of Christ, "Do whatever He tells you." (John 2:5) The collection is the gift of the late Jane Best of Omaha.
Tree of Life Statue
This statue is carved from ebony by an artist of the Wamakonde Tribe of East Africa, where Benedictine missionaries serve in Tanzania. The statue emphasizes the importance of family: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and all those of kinship. "For we are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:28) For the Wamakonde, these relationships foster and sustain life, becoming a veritable Tree of Life.
Mary: Fruit of the New Creation
Mary is the image of the redeemed human being, what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) Mary rises from the heart of the corn. The husks, symbolizing what is old, fall away, and the new creation comes to be. The artist is John Laiba of Omaha.
Lighting a votive candle asks Mary to pray for you to her Son.
Makonde Easter Candle
Carved from mahogany by an artist of the Wamakonde Tribe of the East Africa, this work is intended to hold an Easter candle. The glory of Easter is portrayed through East African eyes. No matter how we see Christ in art, He is brother and Savior of us all.
Fountain of Life
The stone pillars symbolize each one of us, smooth on the outside, and rough within, just the way we are invited to come to the Lord. Holy Water reminds us of our baptism. The octagonal shape recalls the eight people who survived the Great Flood of Genesis, all redeemed by Christ. Created by John Laiba of Omaha.
Stained Glass Windows
By: Fr. Polykarp Uehlein, OSB
Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. (Gn 1:3)
Jesus spoke to them again saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)
This icon is an original written at the beginning of the 17th century in Russia. Jesus holds a scroll in His left hand, representing His future authoritative teaching, and His right hand is extended in a blessing. The Greek letters OΩN on his halo stand for, "He who is.". The faces are drawn with theological meaning: large eyes show divine depths of wisdom, Mary’s mouth is thin and narrow in contemplation. She points to Jesus, whom she has brought into the world. Lighting a votive candle asks Mary to pray for you to her Son.
Jesus Washes the Feet of the Disciples Tapestry in the Chapel
"I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you also should do." (Jn 13:15) Here in the chapel, visitors are invited to meditate, to celebrate, and to a Sursum Corda – Lifting of our Heart in prayer. The tapestry shows clearly what Jesus asks us to do. The artist is Sr. Charis Schmitt, C.S.R. of Wuerzburg, Germany.
St. Benedict Statue in the Chapel
As founder of the Benedictine Order, St. Benedict holds the shepherd’s staff and the Rule he wrote for the life of his monks. Ora et Labora, Pray and Work, is the Benedictine way of life, and has greatly influenced Western Civilization. The raven recalls the story of St. Benedict receiving a piece of poisoned bread from a jealous priest. The prophetic St. Benedict knew the bread to be poisoned, and commanded the raven to take it away. The raven links St. Benedict with Elijah who was fed by a raven (1 Kings 17:6). The sculptor is Lore Friedrich of Muensterschwarzach, Germany.
Adoration Chapel: Tabernacle
The Adoration Chapel invites us to meditation and adoration. Christ is truly present in the Bread of Life. The stones represent the truth of all the different religions with Christ as the focal point. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life!" (Jn 14:6) The goldsmiths of Muensterschwarzach Abbey in Germany crafted the tabernacle.
Adoration Chapel: Peruvian Stations of the Cross
Native artists, calling themselves "Inti Raymi" after the "Festival of the Sun," mostly from the highland region of Ayacucho in Peru, where organized by Orlando Vasquez to sell their artwork. Sales of their art in the St. Benedict Center Gift Shop helps to provide an income for these poorest of the poor.
Reconciliation Room: The Penitent Thief
By: P. Schaefer
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Amid suffering and desolation, the love of Jesus is triumphant. His sacrifice brings the gift of hope. Our Lord’s eyes search the heart of the Penitent Thief who gazes Heavenward. Notice the different planes of vision for each: One is a contrite man guilty of crime; the other is our sinless Savior, Christ, born of Mary. This painting is displayed in the Reconciliation Room, near the Adoration Chapel.
Icon of Christ
This Russian icon was written in the 17th century. The writing is in old Slavic. The words near the top of the icon, “Jesus Christ, Lord who governs all.” In the book held by Christ are these words, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). Christ’s right hand bestows a blessing.
The Misereor Lenten Veil
"Hope for the Marginalized" – The suffering man in the center, the "Ecce Homo, Behold, the man!" (Jn 19:5), is surrounded by four scenes, beginning with the lower left: (1) Noah and the ark, (2) the prophetess Miriam dancing on the water, (3) the supper of the Kingdom of God, (4) the healing waters of Bethesda.
Mary holds the Christ child in adoration. In His left hand, Jesus holds an orb representing the world, and with His right hand – thumb, index finger, and middle finger extended – He offers a blessing. Carved from mahogany by an artist of the Wamakonde Tribe of East Africa.
By: Lore Friedrich of Muensterschwarzach, Germany
“Is he not the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55) Touch the incandescent holiness of Joseph and Jesus with your mind and heart, then let your soul be set on fire. Although he does not speak in Scripture, Joseph obeyed God’s directives as revealed in dreams. Note the upward glance of Jesus, dressed in white, symbolizing His purity. The scroll represents the following: the Old Testament as taught to Jesus by Joseph; Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament; and His future authoritative teaching. Joseph gazes directly at us, calling us to his son. The blue of his robe is the sky beneath which all of God’s creatures dwell. The crimson portrays royalty – Joseph was of the house of King David, the lineage of the Messiah. (Lk 2:4) In this work of art, the hands of a carpenter guide the Architect of the Universe.
Korean Moon Dance Wall Hanging
By: Srs. Barnaba Bae & Liberata Han, OSB
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4-5). Chuseok is a festival at the autumn equinox linked to a weaving contest held in the Kingdom of Silla. Koreans return to their hometowns to venerate the spirits of their ancestors, offering gifts for the bountiful harvest. The Ganggangsullae is a folk dance held on the night of Chuseok in which women wearing traditional Korean dress, hanbok, hold hands and dance in a circle while singing beneath the harvest moon. People of all times and places create rituals and celebrations in an attempt to draw closer to something or someone greater than themselves. In this yearning for the Creator by His creation, we see upon us the fingerprints of God.
Labyrinth and Roses
By: Singer Köder “For the Lord God shall give them light...” (Rev 22:5) This is the western rose window and labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France. The labyrinth is a symbol of the twists and turns of our journey through life, and the mystery of the God to whom we are so powerfully drawn. The rose window, with Christ and the saints portrayed, gives us light from Heaven. Being a western window, it is where our sun sets, our journey ends, and our hope lies. The rose is a symbol of love. The bouquet of roses rising from the labyrinth may be ourselves, and our relationships with others, formed in the light of Christ.
Mary Magdalene at the Grave (Sieger Koeder)
By: Sieger Köder
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the father.” (John 20:17) As it has from the beginning, the sun rises in the east. But now the wall around the tombs welcomes light in. Emblazoned on the wall is the face of death, and the face has split. The graves of Adam and Eve crack, releasing hope to all imprisoned by sin and fear. From cold stone, roses bloom. A new age has dawned: Christ conquers the power of death. Mary Magdalene touches the empty grave of Jesus of Nazareth. Note the light cast on Mary’s face and hands, and on the graves and abandoned crosses. It shines from a different source: The resurrection of the invincible Son of God. Mary longs to grasp with her hand and heart what her eyes and ears perceive.
John the Baptist
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
The artist, Sr. Karin Kraus, ministered to the semi-nomadic Massai tribesmen of Kenya and Tanzania. She created a series of seventy pastel drawings comprising what is referred to as the “Massai Bible.” Sr. Karin struggled speaking the Massai language, so she used art as a means of catechesis. The drawing is of John 1:29.
Abraham’s Call and Migration
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
Sr. Karin believes the herdsmen of the Massai live like the biblical patriarchs did. After her early missionary work in Africa, she returned to Germany to study veterinary medicine to help the Massai care for their livestock, thus fulfilling the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) The stars portray God’s promise that Abram will have numerous descendants; the twelve stars represent the future twelve tribes of Israel. Black symbolizes the solidarity of the Massai in their struggle for life. The drawing depicts Genesis 12:1-3
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
Jacob dreams of angels on a stairway to Heaven. For the Massai, cattle are the foundation of their culture. Colors range in meaning, all relating to cattle. The white of the angels shows their purity as they rise toward God. It is the white of cow’s milk. The red of cattle blood symbolizes strength and bravery. Orange is associated with hospitality. The Massai pour milk into orange gourds when serving guests. Genesis 28:12-14 is portrayed.
Jacob’s Struggle with the Angel
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
Jacob’s eyes meet the eyes of an angel, and in doing so, Jacob sees God face-to-face, and lives. As he wrestles with the angel, Jacob is in fact struggling to obtain his promised blessing from God. The drawing is of Genesis 32:23-31.
Elijah in the Desert
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
A wadi is a ravine or channel which is dry except when rain is falling. The normally black raven becomes white as an instrument of God’s holy will. The bread and meat sent by God and delivered by ravens sustains Elijah in the desert wilderness, turning a wasteland into a golden place of goodness and growth. This drawing depicts 1 Kings 17:1-6.
Tobiah Trusts the Angel
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
As Tobiah and the angel Raphael gaze down the road to Media, Tobiah puts his trust in the angel’s guidance. The red in the clothing of Tobiah stands for his courage. The white in the garb of Raphael represents his purity, his being sent by God. The drawing is of Tobit 5:4-6
The Example of the Samaritan
By: Sr. Karin Kraus
A priest and Levite flee their obligation to care for the victim of a robbery. The red of the Samaritan’s clothing signifies his boldness and courage as he embraces the suffering man. The yellow of the life-giving sun surrounds the Samaritan, symbolizing the fruitfulness of his love. This pastel drawing is of Luke 10:29-37.
By: P. Schaefer
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:33-35). A Pieta is a sculpture or painting depicting the Virgin Mary mourning Christ after He has been taken from the cross. Mary lifts her hands in a sorrowful prayer. The arc of Mount Calvary blends with the entire earth, making the globe a witness to this pivotal moment. Intense colors emit the hope now enkindled in all of creation: Christ is redeeming the world by His death on the cross. Time and space are transcended by this truth. It is the very seed of joy.
The Calming of a Storm at Sea
By: Sieger Köder
“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith? (Mk 4:40) Listen to the howling of the wind, the splintering of the wood, the shiver of panic in their voices; feel the spray of the sea, the pitch and yaw of the boat, and notice the disciple grasping for Jesus, hoping to awaken Him. Here is the man who heals the sick, the blind, and the lame. Will He do nothing? Is it a challenge to their faith? Is it a challenge to ours? Are not we often in the same plight? We call to Him, and there seems no response. Jesus asks the disciples, “Do you not yet have faith?” He asks us the same question.
By: Sieger Köder God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. (Gn 1:31) Rising above the swirl of chaos, the hands of God generate the first atomic nucleus and its red glow. There is an evolution of matter, creating the universe with its lights, the earth with its mountains, forests, and oceans, and culminating in the creation of humankind in the Garden of Eden. God bestows a generous freedom on Adam and Eve, a freedom that can lead to temptation, of which the snake is a symbol. The gray stone foundation bears the fingerprints of God. "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made." (Rom 1:20)
I Am with You Always
By: P. Schaefer
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40) Jesus bestows His blessing, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20). The horde behind Jesus are the poor and downtrodden of the ages, and of the moment. The colors convey the charisma of Christ, whose touch was sought by the blind, the lame, and the sick, and whose love brought the dead to life.
East African Last Supper
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20) Color speaks to the mind and heart. The cultures of the world associate the various colors with different moods and virtues. In this work of art, orange stands for warmth and friendship. Yellow symbolizes the growth given by the sun. Both of these colors denote hospitality and love. White portrays peace and purity. Notice how Judas, holding the money bag, has turned his back on Christ.
Abraham (The Night in Hebron)
By: Sieger Köder Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, God added, will your descendants be. Abram put his faith in the LORD, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6) The speckled goats, cattle, and gold amassed after leaving Ur of the Chaldees is not what God asks of Abraham on this night in the desert. He asks Abraham to believe. Notice the light descending on Abraham – he is on earth and yet looks into Heaven. The green of his garment foreshadows the prolific number of his descendants, culminating in Jesus Christ. Abraham is the father of faith for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Abraham’s response to God is to be our response, “Here I am!” (Genesis 22:1). Standing beneath the night sky, lifting your mind and heart to God, let the stars witness as you trust in the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham – Jesus Christ.
The Last Supper: Pottery from Peru
The Last Supper as seen through the eyes of a Peruvian artist. The expressions on their faces reveal the constant struggle for existence in a poverty-stricken landscape. The large hands and feet remind us of the only capital they have – their own hands and feet. Notice the food, their clothing, and the disciple whose hand rests on his chin, contemplating what Christ has just given them.
Statue of St. Benedict by the Lake
It is the moment when St. Benedict sees the world as in a single ray of light. His heart widens and the world becomes small. The widespread gesture embraces all of humanity; it is also a gesture of the cross. His arms reach toward Heaven, opening what seems veiled to the people of our time. Created by Rudolph Torrini of St. Louis.
Stations of the Cross over the Bridge
These Stations of the Cross encourage us to remember the sufferings and struggles of all our brothers and sisters as we contemplate the Passion of Christ. They conclude with the joy of Easter. The artist is Lore Friedrich of Muensterschwarzach, Germany.
Grotto of St. Joseph
Joseph rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. (Matthew 2:21) This shrine in honor of St. Joseph, the patron of the Universal Church, was built by Brother Egbert Backer, with the help of his confreres, and generous good friends, as a memorial to them. The motto of the Benedictine Order is Ora et Labora, which when translated from Latin is, “Pray and Work.” The candle symbolizes prayers lifted to Our Lord. The square, axe, and plumb line are the tools of the carpenter, St. Joseph. He believed in the dignity of work and knew the necessity of prayer, and taught these truths to Jesus Christ. St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Joseph's Window
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18) Enthroned, the King of the Universe is held in the hands of the righteous St. Joseph. In the left hand of Jesus is an orb with a cross symbolizing His power, and in His right hand blooms a lily, foreshadowing the glory of Easter. Contrast the distinct lines, order, and symmetry of this window at Christ the King Priory with the abstract shapes and flowing colors of the chapel windows at the St. Benedict Center. Artists use widely divergent approaches in their attempt to portray the joy and the truth of the Incarnation.
Christ the King Priory Chapel Doors
Designed by Br. Adelmar Doelger, OSB. Made in the Metal Workshops at Muensterschwarzach Abbey in Germany. In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe... (Hebrews 1:1-2) Scenes from the Old Testament adorn these chapel doors as God works in and through human history. Crowning the top of the doors are the symbols of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The fullest revelation of God is embodied in Jesus Christ. Try to identify each of the scenes to test and refresh your knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
Tabernacle in Christ the King Priory Chapel
Designed by Br. Adelmar Doelger
Made in the Metal Workshops at Muensterschwarzach Abbey. Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28) The crown signifies that Our Lord is King of the Universe. Wheat and grapes adorn the tabernacle, and from these are made the bread and the wine which truly become Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1) Jesus raises his right hand to indicate his future teaching authority. The orb in his left hand symbolizes his power over the earth. Mary, the mother of the King of kings and Lord of lords, shares in the redemptive work of her son. She wears a crown as Queen of Heaven and Earth. The Madonna Carving is by a Czech artist, and is displayed at Christ the King Priory in recognition of the many Bohemians and Moravians who live in the area.
St. Benedict Enamel in Monastery Chapel
Made by Br. Adelmar Doelger, Muensterschwarzach Abbey
A monk receives the blessing of St. Benedict who holds a copy of his Rule, the principles which form their way of life. On its cover is a crystal representing the Gospels from which St. Benedict drew heavily as he composed the Rule. Beside the monk is a plow. Monks cultivated the land around their monasteries, helping in the advancement of agriculture. At the upper left is St. Benedict’s twin, St. Scholastica, her hands raised in prayer. She was the first Benedictine nun. The world is at the upper right, recalling the mystical vision St. Benedict had near the end of his life, when he “saw the whole world in a ray of light.”
The Passion According to Matthew
By: Lore Friedrich-Gronau, Muensterschwarzach Abbey “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) After praying for the Holy Spirit to fill you, open the Bible to the Gospel of Matthew 26:26 and read the Passion. Notice in the foreground Jesus crowned with thorns, on the Cross, and then the angel proclaiming the risen Christ. Encounter the truth of God’s Word in Scripture and in this work of art.