As I’ve said often and elsewhere, those items considered a bit “off-center” tend to easily catch my eye. With all due respect to the people of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it is easy for me to find curious objects that attract my attention in that creative Mecca. My difficulty always comes in discerning which items speak so clearly to me that they end up in my suitcase. The mosaic cross shown below fairly leapt off the art gallery wall:
As a young person, the physical image of a kindly Pope John XXIII and his plan to cast open the windows of the Roman Catholic Church by means of holding a Vatican Council sounded exciting and intriguing even though ecclesiastically it had no effect on me.
In time, through Catholic friends, I learned that priests had begun facing parishioners during mass. Shortly thereafter, the Roman Catholic mass began being spoken in English in my neighborhood. The Council had moved forward by allowing “native” languages and indigenous cultures to be incorporated into the body of the mass. And so we come to the amazing mosaic cross I found in Santa Fe.
I hope you’re able to get a close look at the cross. It’s completely covered by small, clear pieces of mosaic tile in varying sizes. Beneath the tiles that cover the horizontal arm of the cross is a colorful rendition of the Last Supper. Imbedded in the ends of the arms are metallic religious medallions.
Above the scene of the Last Supper on the vertical arm of the cross is a picture of the face of an angel along with a red cabochon stone. Below the Last Supper is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, again with a red cabochon, this time, below the picture.
This cross just mesmerizes me. It looks like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s appearance is similar to that of a stained glass window but without the need for any background light. This cross represents to me a synthesis of European, American Southwest and Mexican cultures. In my journeys as a pilgrim, I have always found that when faith is freely expressed in a heterogeneous environment, the best of all cultures thrives. And in those environments, over time, Universal truths learned in the crucible of daily living are revealed through beauty in art.