Saint Francis at the Stupa

MYERS FLAT, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA / March 28, 2018

I had the privilege of visiting the Great Stupa (Tibetan Buddhist Shrine in Australia) a few weeks ago, and seeing there a Saint Francis statue in process of being painted by artist Lucy Wang— she is also assisting the Tibetan artist Venerable Lobsang Konchock on the main shrine's ceiling and murals. The St Francis statue was comfortably inhabiting a rustic shed, surrounded by work-tools, while the artist carefully considered the exact colour of umber that she would paint his cassock. The statue's hands and head were still white plaster, giving a wonderful "work in progress" appearance. I was reminded of an artist friend and mentor, David Dunlap, who always signed his sprawling, collaborative work with the words "This is always finished" — in whatever state of unfinished-ness one finds things, there is always beauty to find in the present. I'm sure St Francis is now fully painted and standing in a garden on the Stupa grounds. Meanwhile, here is a picture of him with the artist, "always finished" - in the shed. The Great Stupa includes many Interfaith dimensions, and is a project in constant evolution. It is a happy sign of openness to see Francis, the most popular Christian saint, installed on the grounds of this emerging Buddhist place of pilgrimage.

-- For more on the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, read our interview with its founder, and visit its website. (And more explorations to come at the Stupa; watch for a forthcoming interview with the Tibetan muralist Venerable Lobsang Konchock.)

-- photos by Catherine Schieve

  St Francis at the Stupa: work in progress, artist Lucy Wang (work shed, Stupa grounds)

St Francis at the Stupa: work in progress, artist Lucy Wang (work shed, Stupa grounds)

  Under Construction: the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion - photo by Catherine Schieve

Under Construction: the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion - photo by Catherine Schieve