Paintings of St. Raphael and Our Lady, Queen of Heaven hang in perpetual adoration in the Rose Chapel. The artist Cathy Douglass describes the paintings:
The Old Testament figure of the Archangel Raphael and the New Testament figure of Mary, Mother of God, lead us to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The images encompass the full narrative of the subjects as revealed through Holy Scripture and in accordance with Sacred Tradition. They are portrayed as a Heavenly diptych with the effect of a triptych; Jesus Christ in the tabernacle is center with his mother Mary adoring at his right side and the Archangel, Raphael, adoring at his left side.
The use clouds in the background express the meeting of Heaven and earth in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Bright colors and saturated light filling the compositions express the eternal and infinite realm of God which constantly calls out to the world. The paintings are intended as a vision of heavenly adoration of Jesus Christ.
Our Mother, Our Queen
Mary’s face portrays a very natural and humble countenance; her expression conveys the compassion, maternal understanding, and comfort offered by a mother to her child. Her gaze that is directed in a very personal way to the viewer.
Our Lady stands to the right of Jesus demonstrating her relationship to Jesus; a position of honor pointing to her role as the mother to the King, as co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of all Graces. Mary gathers a red rose to her heart with her right hand as she gestures toward the tabernacle. The single red rose represents Jesus and is placed at the very center of this painting to illustrate Jesus as the center of Mary’s life and the center, source and summit of our lives as Catholics.
Our Lady’s red gown symbolizes Mary’s unique participation the life, Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and therefore in salvation history. Her Queenship is also further expressed through the volume and fine quality of the folds of the red fabric with trim of gold and pearls wrapping her body. The gown is gathered at the waist area with a gold sash or belt. Gold is symbolic of divine radiance, revelation, and reveled truth.
In this painting the light pink roses flowing from the hem of Mary’s gown were chosen as a symbol of Mary’s grace, gentleness, sympathy, and as an icon of graces flowing down from heaven. A ring of roses are emblematic of Our Blessed Mother. There are ten roses to represent one decade of the “Hail Mary” prayers of the Rosary.
Our Lady’s golden crown is encircled by a ring of twelve eight-pointed stars – a number which connotes perfection and fullness. These stars are representative of the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The ring of stars looks forward to the fullness and perfection of time when God will gather to himself, for all eternity, his holy people.
Our Guide, Our Patron
There is an intentional tension in the composition of the Archangel Raphael painting; the angel appears to be moving forward and yet is also in a composed, peaceful state of readiness, of interrupted Adoration. Facing the tabernacle, the figure is turned slightly and gazes out toward the viewer, pointing to Jesus present in the tabernacle. His gaze and gesture are both instructive; leading the viewer to the central person of Jesus Christ, and a direct invitation to join in him in prayer and praise of God.
St. Raphael, the historical angel figure from the Book of Tobit is depicted as guide to Tobias, moving with walking stick in hand, pointing the way to his travel companion. The upper body of the angel figure appears “human” as he appeared to Tobias hidden in the figure of Azariah. The lower body is less literally delineated and eventually dissolves into a representation of a transparent being capable of transcending the visible natural world.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is depicted in two ways. First as a subtle breeze emanating from the tabernacle and causing the movement of the folds of the angel’s garment, and secondly as a great presence of a sense of light also emanating outward from the tabernacle.
The story of Tobit includes a dog and a fish which can be detected as abstract forms in the folds of the lower part St. Raphael’s garment. A pouch, holding the healing gall, heart, and liver hangs from St. Raphael’s waist. His walking staff connotes both his historical and perpetual role as a “good angel”. St Raphael is flanked from behind by large wings at rest. The traditional element of wings suggests the majesty and largeness of the Archangel and his ever-readiness to serve God.