Altar Cloth Traced To Queen Elizabeth’s Fashion

January 08, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

The tradition of covering an altar with a special cloth goes back centuries. In September, I blogged about the importance of altar linens, and how the tradition began as early as the 4th Century. This past year, perhaps one of the most unique and important historic altar cloths was discovered. Curators had suspected it came from a garment once worn by Queen Elizabeth I, famous for her long and ... Read More

Worship Space / Liturgical Arts

Nativity Scene Instigated by St. Francis

December 24, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In a previous post, I described the Advent Calendar as a relatively new tradition. The tradition of the Christmas nativity scene, however, also known as a crèche, or presepio, was instigated by an event in Italy nearly 800 years ago. We know the date and location because it is recorded in the well-documented life of St. Francis of Assisi. The annual Christmas scene is an elaborate stage-set at ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Religious

Pre-Spanish Philippines Filled With Anito

December 02, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In Filipino mythology, numerous spirits and domestic deities inhabited the landscape. Anito refers generally to a diversity of ancient faiths throughout the many islands. Anito is also a term for the folk art figures and statues made to embody these entities. These figures were frequently carved of wood by priestly artisans. Used in sacred rituals, the anito embodied the spirit often of ancestors ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Sacred Symbols

LéTourneau Opus 131 Organ - In Progress

November 21, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

As our project with the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd nears completion, we scheduled an office tour today. I wanted the whole office to meet the organ specialists from LéTourneau, one of the premier organ builders anywhere. Their instrument has been many years in the planning, but the work to construct the organ began just this summer when the pieces were crafted from specialty materials ... Read More

Worship Space / Liturgical Arts / Worship Spaces

Hyperprism is Public Art and a Modern Reflection on Stained Glass

November 20, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In this age of high tech lighting and special effects, it can be easy to overlook the simple magic of light transformed though glass. Hyperprism is nothing more than glass prisms refracting light into its component colors. The work is anything but simple, as several thousand glass prisms arranged in a spiral pattern and fixed between two sheets of aluminum come alive in strong sunlight. From the ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Stained Glass

More East Austin Studio Tour Religious References

November 19, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

As I’ve documented this past year, there are many connections to spirituality and religious traditions in modern culture. So it was no surprise to find a rich array of such references these past two weekends of the East Austin Studio Tour. Now in its 15th year, this tour’s offerings demonstrated an increasing level of sophistication and maturity in the Austin arts community. As with my reporting ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Sacred Symbols

Modern Art For Old Church Walls in Spain

November 14, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Several decades ago, a small village in Northern Spain fought hard to save its old church. An airport was due to be built over old stone walls dating from as early as the 16th century. The campaign was successful, the runway was rerouted, and the Church de San Miquel Arcangel was saved. More recently, the village leaders realized they needed to find expanded uses for their landmark structure. ... Read More

Holy Place / Worship Space / Liturgical Arts / Religious

Three Religions Worship Together in Jerusalem

November 13, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A bold, and some would say dangerous experiment was successfully conducted in Jerusalem in September. A group of religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths held eight days of shared worship services together. The group gathering, given the title AMEN, was held in a communal house of prayer, a music school converted for the purpose with modest yet highly symbolic ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Worship Spaces / Religious

San Antonio’s Saintly Namesake

November 03, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Strolling along the famed Riverwalk a turn on the walking trail reveals the image of a saintly young man cast in bronze. From the robes and distinctive haircut, a visitor could easily assume this was a statue of Saint Francis. That assumption would be wrong, but not too far away from the truth. The statue is actually of the namesake of the city, Saint Anthony, or as he’s known in his native ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Sacred Symbols

Art of the Qur’an on Display in DC

October 25, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The Smithsonian has opened the first major exhibit in the US of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy text. Featured on two floors of the Freer/Sackler Museum on the Mall in Washington DC, hundreds of texts display centuries of devotion and artistry. On loan from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, this is one of the greatest collections of ancient Qur’ans in the world. Many of these ... Read More

Liturgical Arts / Sacred Symbols