Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thomas More College Commissions and Installs Mediaeval Italian Style Crucifix for College Chapel

In the last twelve months, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, has been seeking to change the design and ordering of its chapel -- which is presently located within a converted 18th century building. The chapel has historically been more minimalist and functionalist in its design to date, but the College has sought to find a more decorative, less functionalist expression.

Several pieces of sacred art have been commissioned for the chapel. The latest addition is a six foot painted cross. which hangs over the altar, the work of the artist-in-residence of the college, David Clayton.

Commenting on the work and its placement, Clayton had this to say: "It is low so that when the priest holds the host aloft, the figure of Christ is clearly visible within the angle of vision. We have Mass both ad orientem and versus populum, so the intention here is to make sure that however the Mass is said, the focus is not on the personality of the priest but on the person of Christ.

"The cross itself is based upon the early gothic Franciscan crosses. The style is similar to that iconographic, except that the face, in the Franciscan manner, reveals his suffering. The geometric designs in the background include an octagonal motif that represents the 'eighth day' of creation, that is the age of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord. There is a six winged seraph at Our Lord's feet.

"The height of cross creates a vertical dimension in a small chapel by drawing the eye up to space above the sanctuary that was hardly noticed before because it was unused. Aside from seeking to steadily introduce more art, the next step is to raise money for a new altar and a gothic-style reredos that will go against the back wall and allow for the central placement of the tabernacle."

President William Fahey looking at the new chapel crucifix before it is raised up to the ceiling.


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