Elida Testai remembers the exact moment that beauty drew her back to the Catholic Church.
She’d been away for decades and had even tried out a Methodist church in the tiny Midwest farming town where she was a teacher. It seemed rather bare to her and one day, she wandered into a local Catholic church and was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer beauty she beheld in the statues, paintings and stained glass windows. Years later, her eyes fill with tears as she recalls the experience.
The Sacred Art Gallery
7165 E. Main Street, Scottsdale
10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., with extended hours to 9 p.m. on Thursdays
Info: thesacredartgallery.com or (480) 946-1003
Marcus Sobczyk, manager of The Sacred Art Gallery in Scottsdale, said that’s the power of sacred art. “A lot of people are searching for hope. They’ll find it here,” Sobczyk said. “You’re going to find selfless love — God’s love — and a warm comfortable environment here. You are free to love God in this place.”
Grace Minton, art consultant for the Scottsdale gallery that celebrated its grand opening Feb. 3, said the establishment of the gallery by Charles and Christine Pabst was a direct response to the call of St. John Paul II. The late pontiff exhorted the faithful to lift up the true, the good and the beautiful in art and culture.
Working amidst the delicate, lustrous paintings and sculptures is also a dream come true for the 24-year-old Benedictine University-Mesa fine arts student. She knew the Pabsts’ children from her years at Seton Catholic Preparatory.
“Charles and Christine Pabst are an amazing couple — they exemplify Catholic life to me,” Minton said. Working at the gallery “aligns with my passions and purpose and belief. It’s an absolute joy to be here.”
“When you see these images, it’s a constant reminder of the beauty God brings to this world,” Sobczyk said. “Not just beauty, but beauty that leads. It’s not just something beautiful to look at, but gives us something to strive for.”
The gallery features 13 artists plus a large collection called “The Messenger.”
The collection was commissioned and curated by Frank Messenger, the owner of a printing company who commissioned talented artists of his time to create religious original paintings for print. Messenger mass-produced religious art work for the American people. The collection is extensive, so the gallery displays only a few at a time.
Minton acknowledged the descent of post-modern art into shock-value pieces devoid of beauty. “Art was always supposed to be a reflection of the divine, of everything true and good and beautiful,” she said. “Our goal is to get back to that. Our business motto is, ‘Let us do something beautiful for God,’ after St. Mother Teresa.”
Art, she said, offers an important universal language, and sacred art reminds us of how we must order our lives. “It speaks to our very beings,” Minton said.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted noted that sacred art awakens a sense of wonder and awe and lifts us to realities that last forever and find their origin in God.
“Such beauty assists us to trust in God’s love and mercy,” the bishop said. “I look forward to visiting this new gallery myself.”