Art as prayer during Lent


By Judith Costello
For The Catholic Messenger

During the last week of Lent, 11 people gathered in the Davenport home of Mary Costello to create original crucifixes. The group, ranging in age from 11-92, made the crucifixes out of paper pulp. This medium has limited options for sculpting. It is not able to hold details. But it reminds us of what Jesus went through for our sake. The horror of the Passion made his skin into rawness, like the beaten paper pulp.

Judith Costello
Carol Parr paints a crucifix as part of a Lenten “Art as Prayer” project in Davenport. Also in the photo are Mary Costello and Jillian Darland. The crucifixes are on display at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.

Those people who came to make these works of art jumped right into sculpting, without hesitation! It is an act of faith to try something totally new in order to participate in this “Art as Prayer” project. The process of trying to make an image arise out of this unrefined material was a little bit of a struggle with which the artists united with our Lord.

In the process of creating, they found that Jesus sometimes seemed to be a King even while on the cross. He is victorious even in suffering. Faces just seemed to appear; sometimes unplanned. Colors changed as the creations dried.


The group read from Pope Leo the Great (who died in the year 461):

“Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive … the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth …. Through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonor, life from death…

“The power of his death once confronted our death… He did away with the everlasting character of death, so as to make death a thing of time, not of eternity … As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.”

Lord Jesus, may these handmade creations give honor to you. For you have given us life itself and our hands are for your service. Your holy cross is our greatest treasure.

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