Art Institute of Chicago partners with archdiocese for Jubilee of Mercy tour

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, October 2, 2016

Art Institute of Chicago partners with archdiocese for Jubilee of Mercy tour

China. Bodhisattva, Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907), c. 725/50. Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection. Located in Gallery 201
Mater Dolorosa (1480/1500), by the workshop of Dieric Bouts, located in Gallery 202
White Crucifixion (1938), by Marc Chagall, located in Gallery 395A
Georgia O'Keeffe. Black Cross, New Mexico, 1929. © The Art Institute of Chicago. Located in Gallery 265
Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bonvicino). Mary Magdalene, 1540/50. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Goodman, located in Gallery 206
Penitent Saint Peter, 1628/3. Mrs. Goldabelle Macomb Finn Fund, with additional support from friends of the European Painting Department, Mrs. James W. Alsdorf, Mrs. Edward McCormick Blair, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Gidwitz, Josephine and John J. Louis, Jr., the Otto L. and Hazel T. Rhoades Fund and Mrs. George B. Young; L.L. A.S. Coburn Endowment. Located in Gallery 206
The Crucifixion (1627), by Francisco de Zurbaran, located in Gallery 211

From now until the end of 2016, visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago can participate in self-guided or guided tours of seven works of art related to the Jubilee of Mercy. This is a first-time partnership for both the archdiocese and the museum.

“We have certainly brought in other religious organizations and done various themed tours for them but this is our major first collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago,” said Katie Rahn from the Art Institute.

“We have so many works that relate to themes of compassion and forgiveness so it was a really natural fit,” she said.

Working with the archdiocese’s Office for Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, the museum has printed up cards with the works of art, their locations and descriptions, which will be available at the information desks.

The museum has also printed up fliers, posters and postcards that will be mailed to all parishes in the archdiocese. The Office for Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship put together a prayer tool that connects a passage of Scripture and a spiritual work of mercy to each artwork. All materials are available for download at Translations into Polish and Spanish are in the works.

Groups preferring a guided tour can arrange that with the museum.

“Art can speak to people in a different way like music can. It can reach people in their souls differently than words can,” said Elizabeth White, director of the Office for Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship. “The hope is that when people take this tour they can reflect on the works of mercy.”

The tour is a way to pray through art.

“It’s about being able to engage in a different language and how art can evoke in your spirit a deeper understanding of Christ,” White said. “Our goal is that people will take time and ponder them and enter into the artwork itself.”

The archdiocese will receive no money through the tour and the museum is paying for the materials.

“We’re always looking for new ways for people to reconnect with and reinterpret our collection,” Rahn said. “We hope it will be really exciting for them and energizing.”

In a 2010 biography, Pope Francis labeled “White Crucifixion” his favorite of all paintings and in 2015 Art Institute staff arranged for him to view it while he was in Florence for a visit to the Catholic community there.

Chagall was a Jewish artist born in present-day Belarus. He died in 1985 and is considered part of the first generation of European modernist artists.

The oil-on-canvas painting, which is roughly 5 feet by 4½ feet, was purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946 from Chagall’s daughter. It depicts Christ crucified amid turmoil of houses and synagogues on fire, troops burning synagogues and Jews fleeing persecution.


  • pope francis
  • art institue of chicago
  • jubilee of mercy

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