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Statue has new home at Minneapolis Institute of Art

April 19, 2012


And this time St. Paul the Hermit faces the right way — upward in prayer

Art lovers won’t want to miss the beautiful sculpture of St. Paul the Hermit that’s on display — the right way now — at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The larger-than-life-size work of 18th century Italian artist Andrea Bergondi was acquired by the MIA nearly 40 years ago, but until this year the piece wasn’t displayed the way it is now presumed was originally intended. Credit goes to the folks at MIA for rediscovering the proper positioning and not only fixing it but being very public about the misplacement.

Read about the details here, but the short version is that, the way the piece was displayed before, it looked as if the bearded old hermit was diving off a cliff, as a wonderful display explained for several weeks. That display — now down — showcased the Bergondi work in a separate room, with the story of the statue’s restoration and realignment explained in storyboards along the walls of the room.

What the correction did was turn the statue so that the saintly one was seen to be praying upward to God — which seems more appropriate than for him to be going for a dip in a lake.

Find out more about St. Paul the Hermit here, but the back story behind the piece that comes to us from early church tradition is that St. Anthony Abbot found the body of St. Paul the Hermit frozen in prayer. That’s exactly what you’ll see today in the marble image on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Photo credits go to The Catholic Spirit’s Dave Hrbacek.


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