In So Many Words
Columban Fr. Michael Riordan, parish priest of Geumak Parish in Jeju island writes about the mural found at the door of St. Isidore Hospice and pastoral its function apart from its aesthetic value. The hospice takes care of people who are at the last stage of life.
While the artwork could not be called “religious art” in the strict sense of the word, I would care to call it “pastoral art” not in the sense that it is of nature but that it has a pastoral purpose. These works of art are painted on the walls of the entrance to the Isidore Hospice for the dying and also on one of the walls and door of one of the rooms there.
The purpose of the hospice is to care for people at the last stage of life; to accompany them as they prepare to leave this world. Whether they are Christians or not we also aim to let them experience God’s love during this time. The way we listen and talk with the patients and their relatives and the respect we show them in the way we treat them are all part of this work.
I also think the atmosphere is important and without the painting the entrance and corridor had a very clinical and hospital feel about them. The paintings softened the atmosphere and this has an effect not only on the patients but also on the people who work there. It makes a difference to the way one feels as one enters the hospice; rather than a cold and clinical feeling it gives a sense of warmth. It also shows that the hospice has made an effort to make those entering feel a bit more at ease and comfortable. In this sense the artwork is part of the care and pastoral approach of the hospice.
Columban Fr. Michael Riordan is the parish priest of Geumak Parish in Jeju Island, South Korea.