Christ the King Chapel has undergone some small renovations in the narthex recently. When entering the chapel, new paintings can be seen, including icons of St. Francis, St. Claire and Christ the Pantocrator and a portrait of Our Lady Mother of Life. The Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, the university chaplain, led a team of chapel faculty to find new artwork for the chapel.
The project started a year ago when chapel faculty began contemplating what they could do to enhance the chapel. Before, the narthex of the chapel included a portrait of Pope Francis and Bishop Monforton, presenting leadership in the church. Roberson explained that the enhancement on honoring Church leadership and bringing it about in a bigger way was what forged their decision in choosing the artwork. The project team began looking for artwork of church leaders to purchase.
The team decided to purchase an icon of St. Francis and one of St. Claire. The icons were placed on the right and left of the main doorway entering the chapel, replacing the portraits of Pope Francis and Bishop Monforton.
“St. Francis, founder of the Franciscans, and St. Claire, founder of the Poor Claires, represent our identity, who we are as Franciscans,” said Roberson. “They are our patrons.”
Another icon of Christ the Pantocrator, a title of Christ that represents him as the ruler of the universe, was placed in the chapel.
“It is almost invisible, at the top of the chapel just above where the vigil candle stands,” said Roberson.“It is an icon that is also at the basilica in D.C. Although it is small, it still represents Christ. It was what we wanted to represent us in our identity.” These icons were purchased from Nelson’s Fine Arts and Gifts in Steubenville.
The other painting, an image of Our Lady Mother of Life, can be found on the wall next to the doors on the left of the chapel foyer. Painted by Nelly Edwoods, an artist from South Dakota, the image of Our Lady was envisioned by the artist.
“It is a very original painting that really captures what the pro-life movement is and what Our Lady represents, in that as the God-bearer and bearer of the light of the world, it is important for us to have that in our chapel,” Roberson explained. “Again, it represents our identity as Franciscans.”
When asked why new artwork was added to the chapel narthex, Roberson said: “I want us to go into the chapel disposed to that prayerfulness in our saints, our Lord and his mother. To have these images of the ones before us, representing us and interceding before us to God, we thought, would be an enhancement of the chapel.”
Roberson explained that it is necessary that a church includes artwork to enhance the sacredness of the space. “Traditionally it has been stained glass windows and sculptures of saints, which has always been to enhance the prayer life of the people, sacredness of the space and create a prayer environment in a house of prayer.”
Roberson said that the new artwork was a preliminary to some updates on campus. He hinted that the chapel could receive some small renovations over the summer, and the nativity scene is looking to be refurbished with new figurines. All of the renovations will reiterate the identity of the university as Franciscan and what is held dear to Franciscan hearts.