NZ bishops to commission artwork commemorating dedication to Mary


Aotearoa New Zealand’s Catholic bishops are seeking an artist to create artwork commemorating Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier’s 1838 dedication of the country to Mary the Mother of Jesus.

The bishops’ National Liturgy Office has begun advertising for an artist who will create a work incorporating Mary for a special commemoration next August 15, the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

“The bishops want to commission a piece of artwork for that day, to commemorate Bishop Pompallier dedicating the country to Mary when he celebrated the first Catholic Mass here in 1838, in the Hokianga,” Catherine Gibbs the National Liturgy Office administrator said.

“We are advertising for artists to submit expressions of interest for an appropriate artwork. It could be a sculpture, a painting, a carving; any suitable kind of work.

Gibbs said the bishops want an artist who will create a work with for the theme Mary Mother of God and Patroness of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We are looking for an image that is new and speaks to the reality of life in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 21st Century.

It will be respectful of scripture, theology and Catholic tradition.”

The intention is that the artwork will be taken on a hikoi around the country next year to commemorate the dedication to Mary.”

Pompallier was consecrated Bishop in 1836.

He had responsibility for whole Western Oceania which covered a large area of Polynesia and Melanesia and encompassed many Pacific Islands including Aotearoa New Zealand.

In France, Pompallier had been was closely associated with the Society of Mary (Marists).

And when heleft from Le Havre on December 24 1836, he was accompanied by four priests and three brothers of the Society of Mary.

He was present for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and published some of the first printed Maori prayer books.

When Auckland was set up as a Diocese in 1848, he became its first bishop.

In 1868 Pompallier returned to France.


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