Mother Martha Lúcia Ribeiro Teixeira, osb
Abbess of Our Lady of Peace (Brazil)
AN ECHO OF THE BEAUTY WILLED BY THE CREATOR
The monastery of Our Lady of Peace in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) enjoyed a long friendship with the famous painter Claudio Pastro, who won fame by the design and decoration of the Basilica of Aperecida, opened by Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to Brazil for the World Youth Day. Claudio Pastro was responsible also for the frescoes of this monastery. On the occasion of his death in 2016 we would like to pay him homage.
At the time of a Mass in his memory, a week after his death, Mother Martha Lucia said of him that his life was a precious gift of God for us and for the whole Church.
‘If God takes away one of our friends, it is to make him a star of our hope and our heaven’ (Cardinal Journet).
We had all been especially close to him in those last days; one could say that he was no longer simply the person we had known, but he was already in Christ who lived within him. It was a long Way of the Cross, marked by beautiful meetings with very diverse persons. He lived each minute so intensely that he gave the impression of having lived to the age of 120 years.
‘The value of things does not consist in the time they endure, but in the intensity with which they come into being. There are moments that are unforgettable, things which are inexplicable, people who are incomparable!’ (Fernando Pessoa)
The Christ Pantocrator, Christ in glory, which he painted in our church, has the face which he had seen in the coma he underwent in 2001. He described it as ‘a Christ very beautiful, calm, serious and merciful.’ The dazzling Christ, full of light, evokes the deific light which St Benedict mentions in the Prologue to his Rule. On his last day Claudio seemed to be opening his eyes to that light. It was the 17th, the anniversary of his oblation to our monastery. God is love, God is mercy, God is beauty. Our brother Martin (that was his oblate-name), now folded in the beauty of the merciful love of God, is eternally singing his praises. ‘We prefer absolutely nothing to Christ, and may he lead us all together to eternal life.’
Claudio Pastro was born in 1948 to a Catholic family. He studied social sciences and from 1975 dedicated himself to sacred art, forming himself in various European abbeys, notably the French Abbey of Tournai. His first works took shape in the chapel of the monastery of Our Lady of Peace at Sao Paulo. Gradually he became famous. His chef d’oeuvre, the sanctuary of Aparecida, is the fruit of his talent, his work and his love of Mary. In his own words, ‘This work is meant to be a hymn of praise and thanksgiving through the liturgy: the Paschal Mystery celebrated in this place’.
He wanted to make the sanctuary of Aparecida a liturgical space where the faithful could experience the light of the heavenly Jerusalem which comes down to us. These works bring also the element of liturgical, biblical and spiritual catechesis which are characteristic of this artist, for his art makes Claudio Pastro a missionary.
In the course of a televised interview with Father Magalhaes Pastro added, ‘This church is unique! We have a Basilica where the manifestation of God, truth and grace can be felt through beauty, light and splendour. I am very glad to have been chosen, and to know that even the simplest people, no less than the most sophisticated, have the same experience when they enter the Basilica. For many people this is not easy to understand, for faith has an interior growth, and the works of art are an invitation to this’.
Claudio Pastro executed many paintings in the framework of the monastery of Our Lady of Peace. In the church: the Christ Pantocrator and the processional cross, Our Lady of Peace, St Benedict, St Scholastica, the tabernacle; the refectory and the chapter room; several crosses, a Last Supper, two scenes of the Nativity, Domina Pacis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and a medal of St Benedict.
May this body of work be an example of how to give thanks to God!