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Grace in Gold: The Liturgical Mosaics of Fr. Marko Rupnick and the Aletti Center

On 12, Jul 2009 | One Comment | In Artists | By man-admin

One of the things I like best about editing Mosaic Art NOW is that I am constantly uncovering new and wonderful things. No sooner do I decide on a topic to write about when Eureka! — in doing the research I discover something completely new and wonderful.

My most recent discovery is Fr. Marko Rupnick and the Centro Aletti studio in Rome.

A few months ago, I happened upon the website of Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, CT USA. There, I found a treasure trove of images chronicling the installation of a series of liturgical mosaics that were remarkable for their scope and beauty in their brand new Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

The mosaics were massive and covered thousands of square feet of wall space, much of it in hand-formed tesserae of covered in gold leaf. Equally impressive was the fact that the chapel had clearly been designed specifically for the mosaics.  The result is a light-filled space where these works of art can easily inspire thought, contemplation and devotion. As the website says, “The interior project . . leaves no doubt as to the building’s intended purpose as a place of worship – the new chapel will serve as the spiritual center of the campus.

Unfortunately, (at that time) the photos above were all I could transfer from SHU’s website. The majority — covering everything from cartooning, to substrate preparation, to layout, to gold leafing — are embedded in a slide show. I couldn’t provide access here to either of the two excellent videos, either.

Rats. I like to think you folks come here for the words, but I know it’s the images that you’re really looking for.   So . . . what to do?
More digging on the SHU website. Who was this master mosaicist, Father Rupnick, and the crew of 15 men and women from Europe who helped to construct the Chapel mosaic?  I checked the biography on SHU’s website. That’s when I struck gold. Lots and lots of gold.

Shrine of the Most Holy Trinity, Fatima, Portugal

Like SHU’s Chapel, the glorious mosaic above is the work of the Centro Aletti, a learning center and mosaic atelier in Rome where Father Rupnick is the Director. The Centro Aletti is connected with the Pontifical Oriental Institute and serves as an educational facility dedicated to the advancement of studies on Eastern Christianity. Father Rupnick himself is a native of Slovenia and the cultural aesthetic of eastern Europe clearly informs all of the atelier’s work which is done by priests and nuns. The result is art that is surprisingly fresh and modern even as it challenges ancient techniques and remains true to the traditions of iconography.

As always, there are links to everything noted here at the end of this post. In this case, they are very much worth your time to explore. For now, some sublime sacred images.

Enjoy – Nancie

From the website: “The terracotta on which the gold leaf is laid was handcrafted, so that gold tesserae may create a rich array of tones and nuances of colour. Movement is provided in different areas of the mosaic by ‘flows’ of gold tesserae, according to a pattern which adds further vibrancy to the surface, along vertical and horizontal lines.

The Basilica of the Rosary
Sanctuairie de Notre Dame de Lourdes, France
Christ’s Baptism
Christ’s Wound

From the website: “Only Judas’ hands are bare, and they hold a money pouch; he seems to be paralysed. He is the only one who is not in communion with the rest, and his face is partially hidden by his ruffled hair. Not to be in communion with the rest means to be isolated, and isolation leads to death. Life is guaranteed by communion, and communion only. Greed leads man to break communion and take flight.”
Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration, Cluj, Romania
Cappella del Seminario di Badin a Banska Bystrica — Slovakia
The Refectory at Centro Aletti


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  1. Anonymous

    Oh Wow! The photos are fantastic!

    Thank you so much Nancie. I love the play of different size of tesserae and the gold is so magical.

    Lovely, lovely article.

    Thanks again

    Carole Choucair Oueijan

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