Mark Weber
News Specialist
April 6, 2016 // Local

Parishioner paints paschal candle

Mark Weber
News Specialist

Father Andrew Budzinski, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, Fort Wayne, stands by the Paschal Candle decorated by parishioner Art Cislo.

By Mark Weber

Art is his name and art is his game. Arthur Cislo, longtime member of St. John the Baptist parish in Fort Wayne and master of all media in the art world, got a huge surprise at St. John’s 4:30 p.m. Mass on the first Saturday in Lent when the pastor, Father Andrew Budzinski, pointed to a five foot candle in the hands of seminarian David Huneck and said to the congregation, “Here’s our paschal candle. It’s going to be decorated by Art Cislo, our artist in residence. Please come up here, Art, and get the candle.”

Later in a planning session in Cislo’s studio, Art, Father Andrew and David Huneck discussed appropriate and required symbols for a paschal candle.  Cislo, who had worked in clay, paper, wood, glass, canvas and metal, finally would work in wax.

Once he began, Art became totally absorbed in the job and worked virtually full time for three weeks.  After sketching the layout with a china marker, he gouged the lines in the candle with carving tools and added colors with acrylic paint.

At the very top of the candle is the Jesus of Divine Mercy image, then by turning the candle, a chalice is seen with symbols of the Trinity. In heavenly descent, we see red rays depicting Christ’s blood flow into the chalice. Further down is the image of the crucified Lord with the Alpha and Omega signs on either side: “I am the beginning and the ending,” says the Lord.

At the foot of the cross is a skull from which crawls a serpent with its head crushed by the heel of the Virgin who is standing with St. John the Apostle on Christ’s right side. On the left is a centurion with a spear.

Arthur Cislo, Artist-in-Residence, St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne.

A dividing band of gold lettering appears next, spelling 2016 Anno Domini and below it are images of mercy depicted in the Gospels; first is Jesus washing Peter’s feet showing His disciples that service and mercy are paths that they too must follow.

This is followed by an image from the parable of the prodigal son where the father is holding, not scolding the son, portraying more mercy and forgiveness.

The next scene shows Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. Each figure has an aura (halo).  Jesus’ aura shows blue “living water” which He will give to become a spring of water welling us to eternal life. The Samaritan woman’s aura is empty except for the heads of her six “non-husbands.”  Gradually Jesus’ aura overtakes that of the woman, refreshing it; just as He does for all of us.

The final image is of the raising of Lazarus; the ultimate in mercy and power of the Lord.

At the very bottom, etched around the candle is a small fish and a decoration of crosses and colored pearl shapes. The fish image is used as a symbol of Christ and also as a symbol of Baptism. The five Greek letters forming the word “fish” are the initial letters of the five words: “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior.”  And, just as the fish cannot live except in water, the true Christian cannot live except through the waters of Baptism. The pearl shapes refer to Jesus’ parable of the Pearl of Great Price.

The Samaritan woman at the well is depicted in the enlargement, at right, of the paschal candle painted by Art Cislo.

The paschal candle is blessed and used for the first time during the Vigil of Easter and burns at Masses throughout the 50 days of the Easter celebration, as well as at all baptismal and funeral liturgies for the next year. Required symbols are the cross, the Greek letters alpha and omega, the current year, representing the presence of God and five grains of incense embedded, representing the five wounds of Christ, the three nails that pierced His hands and feet, the spear thrust into His side and the thorns that crowned His head.

An exhibit of Art Cislo’s, “Expressions of the Heart of Man” will be on display at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, April 16 to July 10, 2016.


* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.