This is Saint Norbert worshiping Our Lord, truly present in this ornate monstrance. Norbert was a worldly man who had a very dramatic conversion story and went on to found a religious order that continues to this day. One of the other things Saint Norbert is known for is defending the Eucharist against heresy and disbelief, and one of his attributes* is to be pictured with a monstrance.
I’d like to recommend this piece for January classrooms in preparation for our time of family adoration during the large group sessions. Catechists, help your students get more out of the experience by pointing out some elements in this work of art:
- Norbert’s obvious devotion. His posture, focus, position of his hands – all are expressions of love for He who is before him. How can your students follow his example during our time of adoration? (Genuflect, kneel, eyes on the monstrance, participate in the singing, listen to the verbal meditations, etc.)
- The beauty of this particular monstrance. We offer our best to God, and some craftsman (and this artist, Marten Pepijn), certainly did that, also as a sign of their devotion to God. How can your students give their best to God during Family Formation and in other areas of their lives?
- And finally, there are other details you can cover such as:
- What is a monstrance? (A sacred vessel with a glass opening through which the Sacred Host can be seen. From a Latin word meaning to show.)
- Why is that lamp burning just to the right of the monstrance? (That is a sanctuary lamp, required by canon law to be lit wherever the Blessed Sacrament – consecrated hosts – are reserved, to remind believers of their sacred presence.)
- Where can we find the Eucharist in our church? (Answers vary slightly with each church, but it would be most typical to find the Blessed Sacrament reserved in your church’s tabernacle and in an Adoration Chapel.) Make sure your kids know where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in your church and remind them of the proper signs of devotion and respect. (genuflecting, sign of the cross, reverent behavior, etc.)
- How can we find where the Eucharist is another Catholic church? (Look for the sanctuary lamp to point the way.)
*In art, an attribute is an object that identifies someone, most commonly referring to objects held by saints. (e.g. Saint Peter is often identified as holding keys, Saint Joseph by carpenter tools and a staff with lilies, etc.)
You can find the art to download here, thanks to the Web Gallery of Art.
If you’d like options, these pieces would also be nice on this month’s prayer table.