Wednesday, May 01, 2013

There's a new statue for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin.

I don't know what to say.

Badger Catholic posted on it, but I'm not sure if he is serious.  I suppose I could have followed the links to find out for sure, but I'm going to take him at his word and believe what he wrote in the post.  Go here for Badger's post and more photos. (His site is a 'nuclear-free zone' as well!)

Quick history - off-the-cuff.

Bishop Ricken gave 'canonical recognition' to the shrine not long ago.  In the 1800's Our Lady appeared near Green Bay and asked a young woman, Adele, to teach catechism to the local children; she did, and became a nun as well.  Then fire broke out and burned the entire area except for the area Our Lady appeared, and miracles happened ever since.  Bishop Ricken approved the apparitions and established the chapel as an official shrine.  (I wrote this from memory and without taking a breath!  I know!  Like I'm talking real fast to get the history out of the way so I can rip on the new statue.)

Original statue of Good Help

The new statue.

So the statue is really - not a masterpiece.  That's all I really wanted to say.  It strikes me as too sensuous and reminds me of  some of the resin Chinese statues you'd find in a Catholic bookstore.  My first thought was 'kitsch'.  The figure seems to portray a sort of popular culture idea of beauty.    Which was why I thought Badger wasn't serious with his post - I thought he was pulling a fast one.  No Bishop would ever commission or accept a statue that looked like that.

Or would he?

Another image of Our Lady I have difficulty with is OL of America.  Two thoughts:  Maybe some images are too literal?  Maybe religious statuary companies need better artisans? 

I'm not that familiar with the messages of Our Lady of America, perhaps the Blessed Virgin asked for a statue to be made exactly as she is depicted - although I wonder if a fine artist might have executed it more delicately, more subtlety?  There's a lot going on with the image - although it strikes me as  more suited to public veneration than the new Good Hope statue.

On the other hand, if the new statue for OL of Good Hope was done according to Sr. Adele's description, perhaps the craftsman who did the new image would have done better to rely more upon the archetype already at the shrine.  Sacred images made for devotion ought to move one to devotion, not excite the senses, or the emotions in the sense pop-culture does. 

I believe the artisans were sincere and no doubt they are talented. God reward them.  Our lady must be pleased with their efforts.

OL of America



  1. Comment from the artisan at this link:

  2. "In an interview, Bishop Ricken said he believes Tassara captured the essence of the apparition of the Blessed Mother as described by Adele Brise. "I'm very pleased," he said. "I think everybody is."

    I'm not.

    Not to worry however, As Our Lord told Faustina regarding the Divine Mercy image - "Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace."

    The weeping Madonna of Syracuse is not a beautiful image either.

    God's will be done.

  3. Some people, as a whole, we can dislike, but they may have a few redeeming features. But still, we don’t like their overall appearance. I think statues can be like this. Like real people we have to spend time with statues before we begin to notice the features that we do like. I think also when we view a sculpture of any sort from a different angle or perspective we may discover something we hadn’t noticed before. This can create a new interest. I guess we can all be tempted to hold onto first impressions.

    I like grubby statues, those touched and stained over time by the hands and lips of countless people. I also like weather-beaten statues that grow old and flaky exposed to the elements. Perhaps it’s the newness of this particular statue that takes getting used to.

    I wonder how often her exposed feet will have to be cleaned or dusted? Is she barefoot or wearing sandals?

  4. I've been to the Shrine. There are too many representations there; all different and not exactly what Sister Adele described. They have four statues: One behind the altar which is one of the most beautiful statues of Our Lady and Jesus that I have ever seen. A small one in a case with golden hair, old, which I believe was carried in processions, and a third in the lower crypt in the style of Our Lady of Grace which is very nice. Last is the one in your picture, tucked in a corner.
    I agree with your assesment. It's not the best looking statue... The pearlized paint makes it look plastic. Maybe it is? the stiff arms look like dolls arms. The statues in our parish have the same, stiff look. There's gotta be a Bernini out there somewhere. *sigh*.

  5. Ew.
    I am fascinated by all the variations of Our Lady throughout ages and cultures, or how her image is used to convey some meaning. Happiness is everything from a bug-eyed seated Romanesque Madonna to just about any contemporary interpretation. Artists are strongly influenced by their own concept of what is truth and beauty, and that is good. Keeps art from falling into a rut.
    But this just makes me say "ew", for all the reasons that Terry stated.

  6. She looks like Cybill Shepherd.

    Anyway, there's a different idea of humility in the new statue - there's direct eye contact rather than the demurring, downcast countenance. I'm used to the latter expression.

  7. I originally thought Lindsay Lohan but Cybil Shepherd is a better fit.

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  9. Good grief! Looks like something to promote the Arian race! Pathetic!!

  10. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I prefer the stained glass work at the votive chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI.

    Particularly this image of Our Lady of Good Counsel:

  11. Is there a suitable version of OL of Good Help for purchase any where? ...I know the new statue is a failure when the first thing a noticed where her breasts.

  12. Nick - I'm not sure - you could get in touch with the shrine and they might be able to help you.


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