Knight Builds Crucifix for Parish
8/27/2019By Andrew Fowler
Knight offers painting talents during parish’s renovations
SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. — Jeremiah Patterson gave his talent and worked for more than a year to create a hanging crucifix for his family’s parish.
A member of the Holy Family Council 15197 since 2009, he is currently the council’s financial secretary and a parishioner at Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield.
Patterson is also an art professor at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and has been painting for nearly 30 years.
When his parish was undergoing renovations in the fall of 2017, there were discussions of painting over a scene depicting St. Stanislaus being taken into heaven, which has been in the church since its founding in the 1920s. Instead of painting over the original artwork, Patterson offered his talents to paint a crucifix that could be incorporated into the existing design.
He and his wife donated the crucifix to the church, which helped the parish not only save a sizeable amount of its renovation funds, but, more importantly, inspired a more reflective atmosphere in the church.
“I’ve always felt that what I do as an artist is a gift from God and this is a clear way of giving it back,” Patterson said. “It was really the least I could do.”
The technique Patterson used to paint the crucified Jesus is called egg tempera. It dates back to medieval times, when artists mixed the yolk of a chicken egg with paint pigments. This requires the paint and yolk to be hand-mixed daily.
Why use this technique? Because he was inspired to mimic similar crosses dating back to the time period.
The most expensive part of the crucifix was the 24 carat gold leaf, used to depict Christ’s halo.
Above the image of Christ is a pelican, a common motif representing the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Also included are the Blessed Mother and St. John, both known to have been at Christ’s passion.
“It’s very realistic on purpose to remind everyone that [Jesus’ crucifixion] really happened,” Patterson said. “It’s not something that’s symbolic. It wasn’t a symbolic act. It was actual. He really bled and he really had pain.”
“My hope is that it stays there for a long time and touches peoples’ lives, making the church more beautiful and contemplative.” Patterson said. “The cross is really the focal point.”
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