By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
The symbols, statues and paintings found in the new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center “remind us who we are as a church and our mission,” said Dr. Brian B. Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
A visitor to the new Pastoral Center will encounter vibrant works of art in the lobby entrance, including one specifically commissioned for the new building.
“Art and decoration are more than just wall coverings; they are part of our prayer life,” said Reynolds in an interview last week.
Three pieces of art depicting the three members of the Holy Family -— Jesus, Mary and Joseph — adorn the walls of the Pastoral Center lobby.
A five-foot tall cross shows the crucified Christ in a traditional San Damiano Cross and was specially commissioned for the new space. Acrylic paint with natural pigments and gold leaf were used to create the icon by iconographer Igor Derevyanyy.
St. Francis of Assisi was praying before the original San Damiano Cross when he received the call from the Lord to rebuild the church. The original hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy.
“The centrality of Jesus on the cross, the source of our salvation, draws the eye of everybody coming in to the cornerstone and key of our archdiocese, and of our faith,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in an interview last week.
The San Damiano Cross is, in part, deference to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Archbishop Kurtz said, because of his chosen papal name — Francis.
Another piece of artwork hanging in the lobby depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe. It originally hung in the archbishop’s private dining room in the former Chancery building, headquarters of the archdiocese until the new center opened in September.
The image of the Blessed Mother was carved from wood and hand painted by the same artist, Igor Derevyanyy.
“We wanted to place it in a principle location, in a central gathering space,” said Reynolds. “Our Lady of Guadalupe is also a nod to our growing Hispanic community in the archdiocese.”
A final piece planned for the lobby is a wooden statue of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the archdiocese. The statue, which is about four-feet tall, was found at the Bishop David Apartments and is not yet complete. Derevyanyy is currently painting the St. Joseph statue.
Derevyanyy, who is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, described his process of creating art as an act of praying.
“It’s a kind of liturgical, spiritual practice. I begin and end in prayer,” he said. “This is not just business but a spiritual, religious practice. It’s praying.”
A painting of the Black Madonna, a gift from the African American Catholic community, hangs in the second floor lobby.
Also planned for the second floor lobby will be a case that will hold artifacts from the archdiocesan archives, Reynolds said.
Photographs and paintings of parishes in the archdiocese hang on the walls of the second floor hallway. Images of saints and of the Blessed Mother hang in the third floor hallway.
“Art touches all the senses. Our souls are lifted up sometimes in ways we don’t even realize when we enter buildings,” the archbishop said. “Just being in the presence of something great is inspiring. I believe art has that effect on us. The Pastoral Center ought to have the capacity to inspire people, whether they are there to visit, coming for assistance, coming for meetings or for people who work there.”