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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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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

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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