Who knew? That when I walked into the chapel at the heart of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, the first thing I thought of was:
OK, let me explain.
To the somewhat trained eye or ear, you can come across something and say "I know who wrote that!" or "It's the work of this artist!"
That happened in Paris – after a while, even to the untrained, you could tell the work of the Flemish artists apart from their contemporaries. You could see where the Post-Impressionist school was heading. Music is the same, in its own way.
So when we walked into the chapel and was immediately stunned by the beauty of the mosaics on the walls, I thought to myself, "I have seen the work of this artist before". Except the last time, it was at a liturgy that scarce will be forgotten, and I knew precisely where I was: in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, at Sacred Heart University – and the work was that of Rev. Marko Rupnik and his colleagues.
That liturgy, two years ago, was our formal "Sending Off Liturgy" for the House of Brigid. Proximate to our friends the Calcutt family, the chapel has a richness and a beauty of acoustic that made for a marvelous venue as we prepared our next group of singers for their work in Wexford.
There have been times, when in Irish churches, that the simple richness of art and sensitivity to liturgical understanding have come together in overwhelming beauty. One of those times, for me, was the Choir's visit to Monaghan Cathedral. And another was today: the Irish College's Chapel is named the "Chapel of All The Saints of Ireland". In the sanctuary, there appears a chorus of men and women through the years; next to the sacrament, there is a compelling mosaic of Mary, Mother of God, cradling the treasure of the Church, set afire by the Gifts of the Spirit.
Artists who are worth their weight in gold leave their signature in their work, but in the liturgical arts their signature should always be deft; their work should serve as a window into the sacred, their own hand quietly serving in the background. It is a credit to the College that they chose this skilled artisan to adorn their place of prayer. Their chapel is a quiet but profound witness to what a sacred space can and should be.
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