LETTER ON PLAN FOR THE FRESCO
IN THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS
March 12, 1961
Dear Charles Hannan:
I am sending you airmail the oil sketches for the church. As I mentioned before, there are two versions of the apsidal wall and one for the ceiling to harmonize with either version.
I hope that you can find a way to introduce the paintings in the model with the possibility of removing them easily. I plan to use them as a guide when painting full scale later on.
A few notes may help you present the model to Monsignor:
For the ceiling, the points of view used are the central line of the nave, from the entrance door to the altar rail, for centered vision. For diagonal vision, the extreme lateral point of view of the kneeling communicant at the rail, both from gospel and epistle side. There still remains a “dead angle,” the area by the windows. This is painted from the point of view of the priest at the altar, as he turns towards the congregation, and the posture of the angels is centered on the tabernacle.
Apsidal wall. Theme A: Pieta. A straightforward visual rendering of the title of the church as “Our Lady of Sorrows.” The problem of a “dead angle” from certain points of view simply solved by gathering the essentials of the subject matter in an area of the wall seen from all points of view. The upper elements, crosses, etc., accompany the main theme, but are “expendable.”
One point that may be brought out is that the length of the shroud is patterned after the length of the Turin Shroud.
Theme B: Ascension. The separation of Mary from her Son at the Ascension may be construed as one of her sorrows. However, the accent here is on her role in the nascent Church. The Apostles, as expressed in the Scriptures, start there their work of evangelizing. The pilgrim staffs and gourds express this readiness. Mary, plus the Eucharist, becomes the capstone of the Church Militant. The idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix is implied.
Depending on the position of the onlooker, Christ ascending is seen full-length or only partly. This is no handicap to the theme of the Ascension, signifying his upwards disappearance. Mary remains visible from all points of view.
Use only what you think is useful of my commentaries. I hope the pictures speak for themselves.
You should have received the model by now. It was sent Railway Express Feb. 24. I did my best so you could meet the deadline of March 25, if you want to show the model and planned decoration that day.
 Our Lady of Sorrows and Ascension of Our Lord. Ceiling and apsidal wall, Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Farmington, Michigan, approximately 1300 square feet. July 10–August 16, 1961.