"Our Lady of Refuge" is one of 20 images of the Blessed
Virgin Mary painted by Brother Michael McGrath in
"Blessed Art Thou: Mother Lady, Mystic, Queen."
February 4, 2005
'Blessed Art Thou': Mary in art and prayer
Known by many titles, she is celebrated and honored by
Catholics all over the world, and has inspired countless
works of art. Now, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been
depicted in a new, artistic, somewhat playful but clearly
reverential (and colorful) book of prayers.
"Blessed Art Thou: Mother Lady, Mystic, Queen"
represents the collaboration of Oblates of St. Francis le Sales
Brother Michael "Mickey" McGrath and Father Richard Fragomeni, combining 20 original paintings by Brother
McGrath with original prayers by Father Fragomeni, a
priest of the Albany, New York Diocese and a frequent
presenter at the Religious Education Congress.
At Congress 2005, Brother McGrath's original artwork
(acrylic paint on watercolor paper) will be on display
of the Anaheim Convention :,enter, and he and Father
Fragomeni will present a workshop entitled 'Mother Lady,
Mystic, Queen: Rediscovering Mary" (Feb. 18, 10 a.m.).
"I have always had a fascination with black pilgrimage
Madonnas," notes Brother McGrath, whose award-winning
artwork has graced
the cover of America Magazine, and who admits to a bit
of whimsy in developing his creations. "I love to take
the traditional symbol and image, and give it a twist,"
His inspirations also include "the spirit of [the late]
Thea Bowman," and living in poorer section of
Minneapolis, where he saw "the face of God it the faces
and stories of the people, especially women I met
The titles in "Blessed Art Thou" were inspired by the
Litany of Loreto, one of the oldest prayers of the
Catholic Church. Ultimately, the artwork offers a
culturally diverse and imaginative reflection of Marian
images that may startle but ultimately speak with reverence and relevance to Catholics.
Father Fragomeni, whose animated, often humorous and
undeniably direct style have appealed to Congress
attendees for many years, is an associate professor of
liturgy and homiletics, and chair of the Department of
Word and Worship, at Catholic Theological Union,
Chicago. Having written extensively on liturgy,
symbolism and the Eucharist, he is spiritual director at
the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, an Italian-American
spiritual center in Chicago.
"Blessed Art Thou: Mother Lady, Mystic, Queen" is
published by World Library Publications, the music and
liturgy division of J.S. Paluch Company Inc. For
information, call (800) 566-6150 or visit