It's been said a true artist's work is never really finished, if that work is powerful enough that sentence rings true even after you're gone.
Lynn Altadonna is a member of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe and has been assisting in the restoration of artwork on the outside. "The original paintings were done in 1950 by a French artist, Andre Girard," he said.
To this day church members fight to restore them every 15 to 20 years, they're nearly finished with their third revival. "I know my first reaction was -- it's ugly, it's not attractive at all," Altadonna said.
"To be truthful I didn't like it initially, I found it rather peculiar" Father Benedict Kiely said.
But it's the story beyond these jarring images that's like a gospel to them. "Brother Dutton spent 45 years on Molokai in service to God -- that's powerful, it makes me cry sometimes," Altadonna said.
Brother Joseph Dutton was born on the church land in Stowe back in 1843. "He became an alcoholic. He had a really messed up life but when he became a Catholic he turned his life around and he gave his life to serve the lepers in Molokai, which is a beautiful example for today," Kiely said. Dutton joined Father Damien, who is known to Catholics as Saint Damien, for his work on the small Hawaiian island.
"The goodness of it. How can people be that good for that long? That's just extraordinary," Altadonna said.
It has been a tedious three year restoration. Altadonna says much like the practice of faith, the more time you spend on something, the stronger your relationship and understanding becomes. "If you work on these many days and you scrape the wood and you see the pictures, you get a different feeling for it," Altadonna said.
"Beauty is one of the ways we can come to God. Beauty is a way that leads us to God so the church has always been a great patron of the arts," Kiely said.
Much like Catholicism itself, this painting is designed to remain in question, challenging onlookers as a way of strengthening their faith.
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