Not One of the Usual Saints

There are certain saints from centuries past who have always been well-loved in different places, yet it seems that their image and likeness almost never makes it into statue form.

St. Thomas More is one of them.

There have been plenty of paintings of him. For example, here is perhaps the most famous one, by Holbein:

One of the best movies ever was made about him:

Click image to see on Amazon.com. Bonus that I just discovered: free streaming of the movie for Amazon Prime members!

However, I cannot recall ever seeing any statues anywhere I’ve been – including in England – of this great and important (and VERY relevant for our time) saint.

A few weeks ago David Gardiner, from the ecclesiastical design firm Gardiner Hall Associates, emailed me a photograph of a new marble statue of St. Thomas More that they had commissioned for one of their church clients. The inspiration for this statue was the Holbein portrait shown above; Holbein had met More, so would have painted a fairly accurate representation of him. See what you think:

I especially like the polished detail of his "livery collar" (chain or necklace of office).

I especially like the polished detail of his “livery collar” (chain or necklace of office).

And here is a bit closer detail:

Very finely executed.

Very finely executed.

Very impressive and inspirational! It will make a beautiful parish shrine. And it’s wonderful to see that high-quality ecclesiastical art is still possible.

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I have been a customer of Gardiner Hall for over six years now, and in particular, I worked with them on the design and outfitting of the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope in Pope John Paul II High School, Huntsville, Alabama. David and his business partner Larry Hall did a superb job (in my humble opinion), as you can see in the photo below:

A fine blend of newly-commissioned pieces and high-quality items from old/closed churches.

A fine blend of newly-commissioned pieces and high-quality items from old/closed churches.

Be sure to take a look at the site for their Ecclesiastical Portfolio, showing a number of “before and after” shots of churches that they have renovated. As you can see, they can work in a number of styles, and the results are sometimes quite surprising.

This should be a lesson for any Catholic community that has inherited a building that was not built in a timeless style: there are many ways that these structures can be beautified and improved, sometimes even when it seems like there is nothing that can be done!

Also, Seminarians and Priests, take a look at their antique/used church goods section, where you might find just the thing you need for your ordination or your parish church.

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Let’s thank God that the tide is changing a bit and we are starting to see more beautiful new churches built, and also our older/tired churches rejuvenated in line with our rich Catholic tradition!

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No remuneration was received for this review. I am just happy to report on the positive experiences that I have had with certain organizations, when I think that others could benefit from their services as well; also, I like to promote fine art here and the beautification of our churches.

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5 Responses to Not One of the Usual Saints

  1. Joe says:

    Father, I am sure that there are statutes of both St Thomas More and St John Fisher in the church of Our a Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford, England. I used to be a parishioner there many years ago and I’m certain my recollection is not faulty. The parish is now in the care of the Norbertines. I also have connections in the Huntsville and Cullman areas of your home state of AL. God bless. Joe

    • Ha! Thanks Joe. I knew that this post would get comments with reports of statues seen of our saint! I figured that there must have been some statues of him around England (although I can recall seeing none in the churches I’ve visited). Anyway, maybe I should have said that he is one for whom there are “relatively few statues” compared with some other saints. In any case, thanks for reporting in!

  2. Sara says:

    Thank you, Father for this post. My husband was in London on business just 2 days ago and was able to go to the Tower of London and saw where Thomas More was martyred. St. Thomas More is his patron saint. The statue is beautiful and his life very inspiring.

  3. Lisa and Dave McCord says:

    Great post, Father. I recommend a great article in CrisisMagazine.com called “Saving Catholic Culture from Destruction”regarding the efforts of the parishoners of St Ann’s Church in Buffalo, New York, to refurbish that beautiful Church.

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