Artist Uses 21 Panels To Paint Two Millennia

LEXINGTON, Ky.-Amid a myriad of Jubilee Year preparations, one Catholic artist has created a traveling art exhibit which powerfully captures 2,000 years of Christian history.

The 21-panel exhibit was created with rich oils on canvas, each panel vividly portraying the Catholic highlights of each century. The collection of paintings, currently on display in this city in the Kentucky Bluegrass, took three years to complete. The result is a stunning time line that weaves together the drama and significance of each major Christian influence since the world first changed its calendar to reflect Christ's birth. Each panel is slated to be reproduced, allowing the paintings to be viewed by hundreds of thousands in parishes, schools and colleges across the country.

Artist Gloria Thomas, 52, of Lexington, said she felt compelled to produce a work that would give visual personification to the past 2,000 years. Her work spans the birth of Christ and the early martyrs, through Constantine's conversion, the Iconoclastic and Albigensian heresies, the founding of the Benedictines and the mendicant orders, the Middle Ages, the Crusades, Scholasticism, the Renaissance, and into the 20th century, with its martyrs and saints, such as St. Elizabeth Seton, Blessed Junípero Serra, St. Maximilian Kolbe and others. Included in the panels are many influential figures such as St. Bernard, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sts. Francis and Dominic, Joan of Arc, as well as kings and popes throughout the ages.

Accompanying the exhibit is a brief overview of each century, written by historian Warren Carroll, founder of Christendom College and current chairman of its history department. The complete traveling exhibit also has brochures and an audiotape “tour” given by Thomas.

“The story of the Church is a real story,” said Thomas, a well-read convert to the faith.

“It's a remarkable story when you consider the vicissitudes of history. … At no time did an angel come down and reinstitute Christianity; it's always been handed down through men.”

“We're not just grateful for Christ becoming a man for us,” she continued, “but for all those who have handed down the faith and for all the accumulation around it — works of charity, universities, religious orders and so forth.

We just appear on the scene [of history] and become heirs to all of this. I wanted to make people aware of that.”