A ‘study’ of saints


By Judith Costello

After the 2017-2018 school year ended, Principal Bridget Murphy of Assumption High School in Davenport expressed her desire to redesign the school’s study hall, hoping to give it a unified message and a spiritual feeling.

“The study hall was a combination of two former classrooms and a large space that previously had a hodgepodge of posters. It just had no character,” she told me. “You have a lot of saints in your artwork. Maybe that could be a theme: a saint room.”

Judith Costello shows one of the saint images she created and had enlarged for display in the study hall at Assumption High School in Davenport.

Last week, just in time for All Saints Day, the saint room was unveiled. I had six of my saint images printed on vinyl and enlarged to 6 feet by 2.5 feet. It is wonderful to see such large images on the short walls, with a large blue area painted behind them.


On one side of the long walls we have canvases with a Litany of the Saints for Students. This litany gives a brief description of the virtues of these men and women. On the other wall are six, smaller images of saints. And over the teacher’s desk, my 93-year-old mom made a sign that reads: “You, too, can be a saint.”

The intent of this project is to surround young people with inspirational and meaningful heroes. The saints are real people with real struggles.
Pope John Paul II is a modern saint whose friends wanted to resist the Nazis by taking up guns. Karol Wojtyla (who would become the pope) believed that presenting stories of faith, history and culture in theater was a better way to resist the evil of his day.

All of the images of the saints in this study hall also are accompanied by messages about the people portrayed. Mary of Egypt became a prostitute in order to survive.

She followed pilgrims who were going to Jerusalem for the Exaltation of the Cross. She was interested only in business. But when the pilgrims arrived, Mary was curious and wanted to go into the church to learn more about Jesus. The doors of the church would not open for her, although others went inside easily. She sat outside and cried. Then she had a vision of Mary holding the infant Jesus. She was transformed by that image and went on to lead a life of repentance and prayer.

Bridget and I believe that this new Saints study hall will bless the students of Assumption and all who enter the study of saints. “I am happy to report that the Saints room looks wonderful, and students are reacting very positively to the tone,” Bridget told me. “We are very blessed to have your work inspiring Assumption students!

The school is also graced with an inspirational mural in the cafeteria that Loren Shaw Hellige created. “That space has also been such a welcome transformation.  We appreciate the assistance of all of you who have inspired our continued journey toward holiness at AHS,” Bridget said.

(Judith Costello, OCDS, is a freelance writer who lives in Davenport.)

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