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New statue reflects spirituality, education

Maureen Mullen | Friday, May 19, 2006

A new campus icon is soon to join the ranks of Touchdown Jesus and First Down Moses. The “In Celebration of Family” statue – unofficially titled “The Holy Hand-off” – was scheduled to be erected Thursday behind the Coleman Morse Building, building manager Tony Vargo said.

The bronze sculpture – which has been in the works for three and a half years – depicts a portrait of the Holy Family and is nearly nine feet tall.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Brutoco family. Dr. Rudolf Brutoco is the father of two Notre Dame students and founder of the Brutoco Family Foundation, a foundation which supports philanthropic endeavors, particularly those relating to issues of education, health, and spirituality.

Though the foundation does not usually commission works of art, “In Celebration of Family” combines aspects of education and spirituality along with the notion of family -all extremely important values to his foundation and his family, Brutoco said.

A. Wasil, who has created a number of religiously themed sculptures, worked with Brutoco to create the piece of art. His accomplishments include a larger-than-life bronze bust of Christ, which he produced in 1997 as part of the Vatican collection of the late Pope John Paul II.

“In Celebration of Family” presents an intimate composition of the Virgin, Christ Child, and Joseph. Mary is the prominent figure in height, Jesus is at the center and Joseph expresses paternal support and loving devotion toward both, Brutoco said.

Director of the Snite Museum Charles Loving and a committee of several others have been closely involved in sanctioning the sculpture and bringing it to Notre Dame. Brutoco dealt with various representatives of the University regarding the approval and the commissioning of the statue and said it was the shared goal to “capture a private family moment” and to “invite all who see the sculpture to share in reflective appreciation of society’s core element: the family.”

Brutoco said the sculpture is one which “every Notre Dame parent or Notre Dame parent-to-be, for that matter, will be able to relate to on some level.”

The aim of the sculpture is to communicate the idea that “Mary and Joseph not only adored Jesus as the Christ, but loved him as their very own son,” Brutoco said.

He said it only seems appropriate for such a sculpture to stand on Notre Dame’s campus.

“Notre Dame has always inspired people,” Brutoco said. “This sculpture is one more thing to relate to on this magnificent campus.”