Vatican images inspire local artist

Regular visitors to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, will have noticed that for the major church seasons of Lent, Easter and Christmas, the four brown panels of the entrance doors are adorned with poster-sized images and verses.

The images, which align with the church liturgical year, are sometimes pitched at children; for example, Jesus in the crib and the visit of the Magi at Christmas.   The children or their parents or grandparents can read the words as they enter the cathedral for Mass, reminding them of the church’s season.

Parishioner Sue Paton enjoys using her skills to contribute to her parish community in her retirement.   She worked for over 30 years as both a Religious Studies Co-ordinator and Art teacher at St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, and has had a long association with Sacred Heart Cathedral. In conjunction with Cathedral Dean, Fr Andrew Doohan and parish administrative assistant, Margaret Cox, Sue discusses, plans and co-ordinates the images.

Sue strongly believes that “Visuals talk better than words as the visuals show off the words and bring the story to life.” The images, which are printed onto metal plates, are photographs of the old masters such as Raphael and Rubens – or of local scenes ‒ and the words are appropriate to the season. A parishioner has made beautiful padded bags so that the images won’t be scratched and the men of the Men’s Shed are making boxes to hold them.

Sue was inspired when she was in Rome and heard Pope Francis say he wanted a change of images on the doors of the Vatican, in line with the seasons.

Fr Andrew is delighted by “the way the images enhance the cathedral aesthetic and provide an orienting moment when people arrive. Sue is using her God-given gifts to give glory to God.”

Responses to the images on the doors at Sacred Heart Cathedral have been positive, with one worshipper saying, “The doors are welcoming and you know what is happening. They tell the story.”

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