I’ve been working at EWTN for more than five years and I’m still learning new things about its storied history! Yesterday, EWTN President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw sent me a link to an online article that had appeared on AL.com (All Alabama). The headline was “Presidential portrait artist John Howard Sanden to speak Tuesday at Birmingham Museum of Art.” I thought that was interesting but what, I wondered, did that have to do with EWTN? I was about to find out!
After Mother Angelica suffered her stroke in 2001, Warsaw decided that the Network needed to have an official portrait of its beloved foundress. So he looked at the work of several artists and commissioned John Howard Sanden to do the job. Little did he know that, 11 years later, Sanden’s portraits of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush would be unveiled at the White House!
“I knew he had done Billy Graham and I really liked his work,” Warsaw said. “But this job was more difficult because, at that time, Mother not only couldn’t sit for the portrait, she couldn’t speak.”
Nevertheless, Sanden asked to meet with the subject he had been asked to paint!
“The meeting lasted about 15 minutes,” Warsaw continued. “John held her hand and looked into her eyes. He said – and anyone who ever met her knows this is true – that Mother’s eyes were her most expressive feature. Even though Mother couldn’t speak, John said she communicated so much to him through her eyes. He told me later that it was the most moving experiences he’d ever had with someone he had been asked to paint.”
The picture now hangs in St. Michael’s Hall on EWTN’s campus. I’ve included a picture with this post for those of you who can’t come to EWTN to check it out in person! But if you live in the area – or if you come to the Birmingham area for an EWTN Family Celebration or on a pilgrimage – you’ll definitely want to check it out “up close and personal!”
God bless Family!