Celebrating the Saints

At mass today, the homily was about Our Lady of the Angels, the cathedral in Los Angeles--and it reminded me that I have pictures from there!  If you don't know about the cathedral, it was only built 10 years ago, and it's a little different.  The architecture is unlike any cathedral you've seen before, and the majority of the artwork is found in tapestries. The tapestries line the walls, and in them are depicted saints in profile, looking toward the altar at the front. They are extraordinary, both in their size and in their detail.  The artist, John Nava, chose to use real people as models for the images, and so they are very life-like.

In some of these, I was just so delighted to see favorite saints depicted--such as Augustine above.  They are depicted so normally, with the skin tones they probably had (Augustine was African, after all), and in clothing appropriate to their time period and role (notice, for instance, John the Baptist's cloth).

Francis and Clare next to each other.  Notice how the faces and hands are finely distinguished, and the robes sort of blend in with the tapestry background.
This one holds two of my favorite saints--Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc.  I love Joan's look--so young, and the short hair of a woman who has turned herself into a warrior.  She looks so innocent here, so vulnerable.

Ah.  Philippine Duchesne.  Seeing her depicted here, I felt like she was standing with me in the church, and it brought me to tears.  I marvelled at being able to talk with her, to feel her presence with and in me.

One of the beautiful elements of the tapestries is that they contain men and women who are not canonized saints, a reminder that we are all members of the communion of saints, even those of us still here on earth.  In this tapestry, we have a young mother, and two small girls.

Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs from around the year 200.  Their story is amazing, but all the more amazing with such youthful faces in mind.

That's Kateri, next to Thomas More.
Our friend, Ignatius of Loyola.

So, today, let us pray with the saints, that God's kingdom may come.  Let us remember the beautiful, holy, and wholly ordinary people that make up the communion of saints--that great mystery in which we are united to one another across boundaries of time, space, and eternity.


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