Two identical paintings set as a backdrop to the relics of four Brother Saints are touring the schools District of San Francisco New Orleans during the tercentenary of the entrance of Saint John Baptist de La Salle to eternal life.
Created by Oakland, California artist Bill Weber, the works began their tour on August 8, 2018 and will spend three weeks at each school in the District. The tour concludes on May 27, 2019, after which the art pieces will be on permanent display at Saint Paul’s School in Covington, Louisiana and at Mont La Salle in Napa, California.
The tour also is taking place in conjunction with the District’s celebration of the centenary of the Brothers continuous presence in Louisiana and the sesquicentennial of their presence in California.
The three anniversaries are depicted in the painting with images of Brother Saints La Salle, Benilde, Mutien-Marie, and Miguel as well as the founding Brothers of Saint Paul’s School in Covington in 1918 and Saint Mary’s College in San Francisco, California (now in Moraga) in 1868. Our Lady of the Star, flanked by Saint Paul and Saint Peter (in commemoration of the Brothers 1918 foundation of St. Peter’s College in New Iberia, Louisiana), top the painting. Relics of the Brother saints and wood historic to the pasts of the Brothers of the two States finish out the piece.
Shown above, the painting depicts figures significant to the spiritual and historical heritage of the District of San Francisco New Orleans. The top three images represent the two major District Anniversaries (left to right):
- Saint Paul: representing Saint Paul’s School in Covington, LA, which the Brothers assumed responsibility for in 1918.
- Our Lady of the Star (an Institute Patroness): representing Saint Mary’s College of California (in Moraga) which the Brothers assumed responsibility for in San Francisco in 1868.
- Saint Peter: representing St. Peter’s College (now called “Catholic High School,” opened by the Brothers in New Iberia, LA in 1918. The Brothers are no longer there.
The middle row of Brothers are four of the first Brothers Saints (left to Right):
- San Miguel Febres Cordero: He was born at Cuenca, Ecuador November 7, 1854, entered the Brothers’ novitiate March 24, 1868, and died February 9, 1910. He was beatified October 30, 1977 and canonized October 21, 1984. His feast day is February 9.
- Saint John Baptist de La Salle: He was born at Reims, France April 30, 1651, ordained priest April 9, 1678, and died April 7, 1719. He was beatified February 19, 1888 and canonized on May 24, 1900. He was proclaimed Patron of Christian Teachers May 15, 1950. His feast day is April 7, but most Lasallians celebrate him on May 15.
- Saint Mutien-Marie Wiaux: He was born at Mellet, Belgium March 20, 1841, entered the Brothers’ novitiate April 7, 1856, and died January 30, 1917. He was beatified October 30, 1977 and canonized December 10, 1989. His feast day is January 30.
- Saint Benilde Romançon: He was born at Thuret, France June 14, 1805, entered the Brothers’ novitiate February 10, 1820, and died August 13,1862. He was beatified April 4, 1948 and canonized October 29, 1967. His feast day is August 13.
The two Brothers at the bottom are the “founders” of the District entities that are being celebrated and still operated by the Brothers:
- Brother Nilammon Laurent, the first Director at St. Paul’s.
- Brother Justin McMahon, the first Director of Saint Mary’s College.
The other components of the piece are all historically significant:
- The four circles hold relics of the four Brother Saints depicted.
- The metal cross in the center is made of two nails welded together that were taken from the ruins of the fire that destroyed Dixon Hall, the centerpiece building on the original campus of Saint Paul’s School. One of the Brothers gathered up the nails to reuse them but eventually they were made into crosses.
- The framing of the piece is made of the legs of an altar that is from the Brother’s former community at “Magnolia” in Lafayette, LA. The altar had been made by Brother Ephrem Hebert, and the use of the wood in this piece is a tribute to his handiwork on behalf of the community of retired Brothers who lived there.
- The wooden cross is an end piece of an original cross (circa 1872) that was on the building at Martinez, the novitiate of the Brothers before they moved, with the cross, to Mont La Salle in Napa, CA in 1932.