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Gwyneth Holston is a sacred artist who works to provide and promote good quality Catholic art. Her website is gwynethholston.com.
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"Upon the road, René was always occupied with God. His words and the discourses he held were all expressive of submission to the commands of Divine Providence, and showed a willing acceptance of the death which God was sending him. He gave himself to God as a sacrifice, to be reduced to ashes by the fires of the Iroquois, which that good Father's hand would kindle. He sought the means to bless Him in all things and everywhere. Covered with wounds as he himself was, Goupil dressed the wounds of other persons, of the enemies who had received some blows in the fight as well as those of the prisoners. He opened the vein for a sick Iroquois. And he did it all with as much charity as if he had done it to persons who were his best friends."
— St. Isaac Jogues (writing in 1643)

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Pathetic Beauty
published 5 May 2014 by Gwyneth Holston

GWYN_A Little Princess “The dream was quite at an end. The last spark had died out of the paper in the grate and left only black tinder; the table was left bare, the golden plates and richly embroidered napkins, and the garlands were transformed again into old handkerchiefs, scraps of red and white paper, and discarded artificial flowers all scattered on the floor; the minstrels in the minstrel gallery had stolen away, and the viols and bassoons were still. Emily was sitting with her back against the wall, staring very hard. Sara saw her, and went and picked her up with trembling hands.”

Even after hundreds of readings, I have to admit that I still get a little choked up when I reach this paragraph in Francis Hodgson Burnett’s novel, A Little Princess. After a heroic attempt to create beauty out of rubbish and a concerted act of imagination, young Sara Crewe faces utter despair.

I wonder, wasn’t there something beautiful about her attic room, just for a moment before Miss Minchen found her out and destroyed everything? I think that there was and I think it was palpable.
A paper cup of dandelions can be beautiful when they are given to you by your child. A poverty-stricken mission church in Africa can be beautiful when it is constructed with love. Even a tacky desktop wallpaper can be beautiful when it is the manifestation of the last ray of hope for someone living cubicle-imprisoned existence.

Although I am not completely convinced by my own argument, I want to believe that a pure intention, even when combined with severely limited resources or a malnourished aesthetic, can create beauty. Is that beauty objective, subjective, or just supernatural?


GWYN_poor family