Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Rosary Walk For Our Times: A Brilliant Sculpture by Thomas Marsh

Thomas Marsh, the sculptor, has sent me photos and an explanation of a recently completed commission in Virginia, a rosary walk.

Marsh is an excellent Catholic sculptor who, in my opinion, is rare amongst contemporary sculptors in his understanding of the need for a balance between naturalism and idealism in Christian art. Marsh draws on the classical Greek ideal and integrates it with a heightened naturalism obtained by direct observation of people. This creates the blend of the general and the particular which connects the image with a unique person who can exemplify universal principles through their appearance.

This particular commission encourages prayer that engages the whole person, and because of its layout is, fortuitously, perfect for these times, as Marsh explains:
The work is located on the grounds of St. Isidore the Farmer Catholic Church, between the towns of Orange and Gordonsville, Virginia, on Highway 15. There are still some architectural details to add (in progress) such as a bas-relief Corpus for the white cross, and bas-relief medallions around the base of the statue, medallions whose subjects are the symbols of the four Evangelists. We had planned to dedicate this publicly for the region on Mothers’ Day, but obviously those plans have been postponed. I will let you know at the earliest possible time when that new dedication date will be.
For some brief explication, walking and praying one full circuit of the ellipse is a decade of the Rosary. One walks the ten to twelve steps between the large medallions while praying one Hail Mary. It is a work which refers significantly to the Book of Revelation, as well as to (then) Cardinal Ratzinger’s book of the year 2000, The Spirit of the Liturgy. In that book, he treats in depth the “Exitus-Reditus” concept, which is a very important facet of this prayer walk.
While we cannot yet return to Mass, this prayer walk can offer us a structured, physical religious experience. And the views from the walk are magnificently pastoral, here in the Piedmont region of Virginia. Father Terry Staples, pastor of St. Isidore, invited me to do this project in 2014. The statue was finally unveiled on February 16 of this year. (Of current note: even when the walk is "full," it accommodates ten people, all 15' apart. So it works within the guidelines! We pray those guidelines will soon be a thing of the past.)
As landscape architectural details get added over time (such as rose bushes, simple benches, hedges, etc.) I will keep providing you with images. A top priority will be to get you some photos of the prayer walk and statue in the coming weeks with the Corpus and Evangelist medallions, and the now lush green grass!
God bless you and yours during our Marian month,
I look forward to seeing more photographs as this site matures.

Those who are interested in seeing more work by Thomas Marsh should follow the link here: thomasmarshsculptor.net

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