Sister Jean Dominici de maria, OP, ph d
Sister Jean Dominici taught computer graphics at Molloy College on Long Island, New York for 33 years. The creative adaptation of her computer skills provided the foundation for the most recent restoration of Girard’s windows at Blessed Sacrament Church. There were many challenges to be overcome and her collaboration with Josephine Belloso in the digital processing of the many foundational difficulties made the painted restoration that followed possible. Sister Jean also contributed to the publication of this book by digitally processing the layout designed by Miss Belloso, using Adobe Creative Cloud software – Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, using Adobe Garamond. Her contributions to these efforts were essential and invaluable.
A Professor Emerita of Molloy College, Sister Jean has also been President of the Catholic Fine Arts Society, CEO of Catholic Artists of America
and a Board of Trustee Member for the National Museum of Catholic Art and History. Although now retired, she continues to work as a freelance
painting on light
This is a fascinating book; an intriguing story of art, faith, and service to others. The symbol of light shines through the years, from the artwork of the original artist who used actual light as a color in his painting of the church windows of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, to the restorers who used the digital light of the computer to repair and recreate his work.
A narrative journey, this book describes the history of Blessed Sacrament Church and explains why it was built as a memorial to Brother Joseph Dutton who, inspired by Father Damien, decided to dedicate his life to caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.
The continuing narrative takes us through the building of the church and introduces us to the French liturgical artist, André Girard who used his unique artistry to decorate the church both inside as well as on the outside. Twenty-five years later, due to the extremes of Vermont weather, Girard’s beautiful, luminous paintings on the windows and the bold exterior paintings of the murals began to deteriorate. Fortunately, Josephine Belloso who studied with Girard and was familiar with his style and technique, was able to restore his artwork as close as possible to its original glory.
Thirty-five years later, the paintings on the windows had deteriorated extensively again . This time with the collaboration of digital artist Sister Jean Dominici DeMaria, OP, Miss Belloso not only restored the windows but did so through the process of digital painting that would result
in permanently preserving the images of André Girard’s brilliantly
Although this is a scholarly book, it is filled with vignettes of Stowe residents such as Maria von Trapp and her family who sang and worshipped at Blessed Sacrament Church, and Matthew H. Strong, a local artist and sculptor who was the third artist to repair the exterior murals.
The book is a celebration of the lives of Brother Dutton, Father Damien, and the creative genius of André Girard, and is a testament to the present-day artists who restored the artwork at Blessed Sacrament Church.
Blessed Sacrament is a remarkable church. Built in 1949 as a simple wooden structure with little decoration to serve the needs of a small congregation, it was transformed by the French liturgical artist, André Girard, into an artistic treasure. It is a historic church. For several generations it has reflected the deep religious faith of its congregation, and expressed pride in Stowe’s heroic son, Brother Joseph Dutton. Through its many restoration efforts, Blessed Sacrament has preserved an important aspect of Vermont heritage and maintained the spirit of its own mission in a way that is still relevant and meaningful today.
André Girard’s artwork at Blessed Sacrament Church was really a far-sighted approach to church design and the creation of sacred space. It is extraordinary how the work he did in the last century has remained valid, throughout a time of so many liturgical changes. It has stood the test of time. Many visitors are amazed to find that the church is over 65 years old; they often think it is a new church, because of its unique approach and contemporary appearance. Blessed Sacrament is a jewel in the rough, a rustic church suited to its time and place, beautiful and inspirational.
André Girard who decorated Blessed Sacrament Church with his unique artistry was a multi-faceted artist and creative individual who was not only an internationally-renowned painter, but a film and television innovator, a printer of fine books, a French Resistance fighter, a writer, a lecturer, a stage-designer, and educator.
As a young student while studying at the L'Ecole Des Beaux Arts he had the rare opportunity to meet Georges Rouault, the great French liturgical artist, who recognized Girard’s talents and became his teacher and friend. It was probably through this association that Girard was influenced to develop an interest in religious art.
Few artists have had the privilege of decorating an entire church-even Michelangelo did not decorate the entire Sistine Chapel. When André Girard, an already established artist, in 1949 visited Blessed Sacrament Church at Stowe to install his paintings of the Way of the Cross, and he
saw the empty space with only an altar and a crucifix, he became inspired
to meet the challenge of creating an entire atmosphere of sacred space within the church through his own creative vision.
The continuous row of 36 windows surrounding the uppermost level of the church provided the perfect opportunity for him to utilize his technique of painting on light. Upon hearing of the humanitarian efforts of Brother Joseph Dutton, he was inspired to paint highlights of his life in Molokai on large-scaled murals on the outer walls of the church so that people could visually experience his life of sacrifice and dedication.
André Girard's brilliant use of color and light effectively created a mood, intensified a dramatic moment, illuminated the darkness or even revealed a Divine Presence in his decoration of Blessed Sacrament Church.
Miss Belloso is not only the author of this book, but also part of the story. She knew André Girard, studied with him, and has been instrumental in restoring his artwork and promoting his artistic heritage.
In the 1970s when André Girard’s paintings at Blessed Sacrament Church had seriously begun to deteriorate, Miss Belloso did a major restoration of the 36 windows and all of the exterior murals. Thirty-five years later, when Girard’s windows had become so dried out that they could not be directly restored, Miss Belloso implemented the way to preserve as much of Girard’s original artwork as possible. Using the Photoshop painting processes, she was able to repair the photographs of the damaged windows by painting into them digitally. She thus ensured that Girard’s brilliant images would be permanently preserved and never have to be restored again. Her research, documentation, photographs, and experience are combined in the writing of this book.
A Professor Emeritus of St. Joseph’s College in New York, where she taught for thirty-seven years, Miss Belloso has always been a professional multi-media artist as well as a teacher. A list of her art commissions which range from relief sculptures on the facades of buildings to a memorial tribute in a plaza in South America, make for interesting reading.
It was the noble dedicated life of Brother Joseph Dutton that inspired Blessed Sacrament to build the church as a memorial to his life of service to God and country. As a young man, after he had served in the Civil War, he experienced serious emotional difficulties readjusting to civilian life. However, at the age of forty, he had a spiritual transformation and finally found a deeper purpose in his life by going to Molokai to help Father Damien in his mission of caring for the lepers.
Following the death of Father Damien, the responsibility of directing the entire settlement fell to Brother Dutton. Dutton not only initiated many building projects but also made the residents realize they were part of a community, and with some training could help build each others’ houses, grow crops, and raise chickens to help feed their families. He also used his letter-writing skills to communicate with people all over the world to bring attention to the needs of his flock.
When Brother Dutton died in 1931, he received tributes from ordinary people as well as several United States Presidents for his 45 years of humanitarian service. His legacy still lives in the hearts of the Hawaiian people whose legislators have petitioned Washington, D.C. to place his statue in Kalaupapa National Historic Park in recognition of his service to the Hawaiian people.
(joseph de veuster)
Father Damien was born in Belgium in 1840. While still a young seminarian he volunteered to take a turn serving the leper colony on the island of Molokai. After experiencing the terrible living conditions and the sense of despair that existed there, he decided to remain on a permanent basis to try to serve both their physical, and especially their spiritual needs.
He began by building homes, an orphanage, and churches. He also became a strong voice calling for greater assistance from the government and church authorities. After several years, it became known Father Damien himself had contracted leprosy. Hearing this, Brother Dutton felt drawn to begin his own service in Molokai. For his exemplary life, Father Damien, was canonized a Saint in 2009.
matthew h. strong
When the exterior murals of Blessed Sacrament Church needed major restoration, not only the paintings needed to be restored, but the wood on which they were originally painted required restoration as well.Fortunately, the task fell to Matthew H. Strong who was well qualified to meet the challenges of the work. A local artist as well as a master carver, he successfully developed a plan for restoring the paintings as well as the deteriorated wood. Using old black and white photographs, as well as faded images on the wood, he was able to recreate Girard’s powerful illustrations of the lives of Brother Dutton and Father Damien in the leper colony of Molokai. Using digital photo projection, he was also able to recreate the painting on the pediment above the new entrance to the church.
Matthew Strong is a resident of Stowe, Vermont. His commissions range from the carving of a baptismal font to personal carving commissions for individuals. He also teaches carving classes throughout the state, and has private students as well. Currently, he is president of the Green Mountain Wood Carvers Association.
This book is a treasure for any art lover, visitor to the church, or anyone desiring a glimpse into the creative processes of four artists, spanning over sixty-five years. With its rare photographs, and colorful reproductions of Girard’s paintings, the reader has the opportunity to experience the beauty and creative power of his artwork that can move, inspire, and transform those fortunate enough to view them.
In October of 2018, Monsignor Peter Routhier was invited to be a key note speaker at the Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference in Honolulu to support the case for sainthood for Brother Dutton. This video remembering Brother Dutton was created to show at the conference.
"Painting on Light is truly a lost art form in our day. If you want to regain a connection to your world,
grab this , ingest it, and pass it on to your younger family."
- esbert cardenas
President, image outfitters
"This beautifully illustrated book takes you on a memorable journey to Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe, Vermont to view the remarkable paintings of the acclaimed French liturgical artist, Andre Girard, who transformed a small country church into a true work of art."