Mosaic Designed for the Cathedral of St. Paul

The following is from the bulletin of the Cathedral of St. Paul, written in 1990 by Father Ambrose Hayden, now retired, who was then Pastor at the Cathedral. In it, he recalls first meeting Ade Bethune in 1939. Fifty years later, he faced the decision to commission an artist to design the mosaic in the Baptistry, to be dedicated on the occasion of the 75th Jubilee celebration of the Cathedral. He wanted a work by a woman artist, and was thrilled to learn that Bethune was not only alive and well, but a renowned practicing artist. The commission for the work went to Ade Bethune.

Photo of the Ade Mosaic
Mosaic for Baptistry

In 1939, when we were seminarians at the St. Paul Seminary, the regular routine of prayer and study was rarely broken. On occasion, however, a guest lecturer was invited to address the student body, not as much for entertainment, as for cultural enrichment. On one of those occasions a young woman artist, Ade Bethune, was invited to address us -- and that was remarkable in those days because she was a woman speaker on a seminary campus! Only two others attained that distinction in my time: Dorothy Day and the Baroness VonTrapp. Ade Bethune's address was so interesting to us - and to her - that she lost her sense of time and extended into the schedule for night prayers at 9:30 pm. The auditorium became electric by 10 pm and the rector, Monsignor Lawrence Wolf, who was the quintessence of the Christian gentleman, didn't think it proper to flag her down! When I discovered recently that she was still active as an artist, I was delighted to commission her to do the mosaic of Christ's Baptism which we shall install into our baptistry this year. A Belgian immigrant, born in 1914, she was not only deeply committed to her work as a professional artist but also very active in the works of mercy, particularly at Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker in New York. Fortunately St. Catherine University in St. Paul has become the depository for her rich library of books and art drawings. Sr. Judith Stoughton, CSJ has just completed a highly interesting biography of her entitled: Proud Donkey of Sahaerebeek [sic], Ade Bethune, Catholic Worker Artist.

Her first Minnesota contact strangely enough was when she was still a young woman in Belgium in 1927. After Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris, he came to Belgium. "The parade for him passed right in front of our window! Lindbergh was the most exciting thing in the world" she later reported. In the 1960's she was invited to serve as liturgical consultant to the Church of St. Leo in St. Paul where Msgr. Bernard Murray was pastor. She had also done work for Father Paul Bussard and Father Louis Gales at the Cathechetical Guild of St. Paul.

She also has artistic forbears in the Cathedral because she studied under Charles Connick who designed our three large rose windows along with those in the sanctuary. She was elected to win a prize in one of his classes in Boston for a stained glass medallion.

In next week's bulletin we shall reproduce the line drawing for the proposed mosaic along with an explanation of its symbolism. Rudolph Rohn of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who will execute and install the mosaic, visited us last week and it all goes on schedule, he hopes to have it installed in time for our Jubilee on April 29.