33 Days to Merciful Love

33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat... Read more

$14.95
Buy Now


Norman Rockwell Recruits Marians for Painting

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Comments

This story first appeared in the Summer issue of Marian Helper magazine. To get a free copy of the magazine, click here.

From 1953 until his death in 1978, the famous painter Norman Rockwell lived just down the hill from the Marian Fathers in Stockbridge. For many of his most famous artworks, he recruited locals to serve as his models. Such was the case for his 1970 painting "Christmas in Bethlehem" — only this time, he called upon the assistance of the Marians. Our January-May 1987 issue of Marian Helpers Bulletin used "Christmas in Bethlehem" for the cover image. The following explanation of the painting comes from that issue:

Norman Rockwell made it a rule never to fake anything, always to use, if possible, authentic props and costumes. When he decided to paint the religious procession at midnight in Bethlehem Square he didn't have far to go. He just came up to our monastery here on Eden Hill and asked us to help him with vestments worn by prelates and clergy. Three of our priests went down to his studio and posed for him. With the stroke of a brush he made Fr. Francis Duda, MIC, a bishop leading the procession, bending low, because the door leading into the church is constructed so low that all who go in must stoop to enter. Father Joseph Grisans, MIC, stands out tall and stately, all six feet of him. Father Gerald Ornowski, MIC, cross-bearer, represented the younger priests and clerics. Now all that the artist had to do was multiply his models and stretch out the procession.

When the painting was done, Mr. Rockwell called us for a final check to see if any corrections were needed to be made. That's when this photo was taken.

The painting reflects the uneasy "peace on earth" which still eludes mankind as evidenced by the presence of armed soldiers. It is supremely fitting that everyone should approach the Infant Jesus in a posture of humility. And it is our prayer that Heaven's gift of peace may truly reign in your heart.

Print this story

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Comments

Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Rebecca - Nov 23, 2016

Thank you for sharing this beautiful personal story of the great American artist's methods and the real life participation of those wonderful Marians!
Amidst the commecializaton of the holidays a heartfelt reminder of what is really important...our true personal stories

anon - May 29, 2017

Norman Rockwell was an icon of American family life, decency and childhood wonder and innocence. He was a force for good who lived so very close to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy. The "biographers" who try to slander him would do the very same to Christ Himself. Make Rockwell look bad, make Stockbridge look bad, make the Shrine look bad, that's their ploy.