By Sister Nancy Liddy
Many of the visitors to Maple Mount may be familiar with the statue of Saint Angela Merici in our Mount Saint Joseph Chapel. Once housed in the rotunda of the former motherhouse of the Ursulines of Paola, Kan., the statue has graced our chapel for over 10 years. Although I appreciate the life-size carved wood statue of Angela, I rarely give it more than a casual glance as I pass it each day in the vestibule. Apparently, I’m not alone. A study found the average museum-goer spends just a few seconds looking at a work of art!
We all appreciate how art can make a physical space more attractive. Yet, as we know, when we pause and really look at a piece of liturgical art, our faith is enriched by the experience. When I began to slow down long enough to pay attention, this simple statue of Angela began to come alive. I noticed the artist had made some deliberate decisions about the details:
The curved lines carved into her tunic and cape give a sense of being clothed with the Spirit. Her front foot set firmly on the foundation and the other foot slightly off the ground convey forward motion in the direction of her serene gaze. A basket of bread encircled by her arms is full of meaningful symbolism for the viewer.
Although we are in a time of crisis, the pandemic is also a unique opportunity to linger, learn, dream and pray. We have been given time to see anew what is literally right in front of us.
An invitation to prayer:
Meditate on the image of Saint Angela. What part of the image has drawn your attention? Is a message conveyed that pertains to your life today? Allow yourself a moment of stillness.
In memory of artist Sister Mary Jane Robertshaw, OSU-RU (who died April 21, 2020). Sister Mary Jane carved the original sculpture of Saint Angela over two summers in the 1960s.
In memory of Sister Marcella Schrant, OSU (who died Sept. 25, 2021), who collected aluminum cans to raise the funds needed to commission a replica of Sister Mary Jane’s work in Paola.
The statue was carved by Darryl Southern and placed in the Paola rotunda on June 29, 1990. It was rededicated November 25, 2009, at the Mount Saint. Joseph Motherhouse Chapel on the 474th Anniversary of the Foundation Day of the Ursulines.