Insight and Access into the Divine
Experiencing the Holy through the Visual

“As bearers of a great liturgical tradition, communities of Benedictine women assume their places as liturgical centers … ” This exhibit portrays the evolution of art forms expressing the spiritual and the sacred through vesture and practices related to prayer and liturgy, ritual and community. These art forms grew out of the deep beliefs and the rich prayer life of the Sisters at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.

The exquisite needlework created by the Sisters during the first half of the 20th century truly reflects a culture in which thimble and thread give insight and access to the divine. You will see the beauty of the designs, the utilization of the finest silk and gold threads available and the superb technical expertise in the creation of liturgical vesture with images which move the heart and mind inward and inspire faith and hope. One might even say, “The art itself worships and invites the viewer to join in the worship of God.”

Several early vestments with elaborate detail and symbolism are displayed. “The visual arts address the mysteries of life by using the language of symbol. Symbols help us make real that which exists but is absent.” Throughout Jewish and Christian history, symbolism has been a major artistic technique for interpreting religion. The Church’s rich mystical tradition and its spiritual images are grace-filled opportunities for letting God speak to us.

This exhibit includes vesture today which is in somewhat stark contrast to that of earlier years. A sense of the sacred is communicated and expressed more simply now, through the use of color, line and movement. Contemporary woven vesture made of the same silk threads has replaced the earlier hand-embroidered vesture. Together with musical texts that engage the gathered community, these simpler expressions of art forms call forth a deep, personal relationship with the God we worship and praise.