Our Lady of Divine Providence Church Unveils New Iconography
The newly constructed building for the mission church, Our Lady of Divine Providence, in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands is now adorned with new and inspiring art work, made specifically for the mission.
The scenes in the series that now hangs on the new church walls are subjects of contemplation. Each painting represents a moment of enlightenment brought about by contact with Jesus and insight into divinity. In some of his sermons, Fr. Peter often refers to one or more of these scenes to illustrate a message in one of the weekly Sunday readings.
The rounded architecture of the church, with these paintings hung in a complete circle, creates an effect much like an IMAX theater experience. The paintings contain depictions of familiar stories such as the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Nativity scene. However, each story is unified by a common theme—the intervention of the divine nature of Jesus.
The style of the paintings is more like something you would see in a Greek orthodox church, but with a decidedly Caribbean flavor. The artists’ choice of color, texture and form emphasize the referential essence of the scene rather than a representational depiction of it. It is as if the artist is re-creating Byzantine images through a Caribbean lens. Perhaps this is the genius of the work and the genius of the selection of these painting for this church.
As an example, many elements of the traditional Nativity scene so well-recognized in the U.S. have a twist as depicted by this artist. Rather than the Jesus rocking in a manger, this depiction places the newborn in a coffin to draw a link between life and his untimely death. Furthermore, Mary is not admiring the child by his side, but is instead taking on a more central position almost characterized as the altar itself. This suggests that believers could go through Mary, the mother of God, in order to know God.
The Descent into Hell icon is another interesting image appearing on the walls, in which Adam and Eve are both present. A more late Medieval and early Renaissance depiction of this scene would show Christ grabbing the wrists of both Adam and Eve, and pulling them out of Hades. However, the depiction of the image in this painting follows the Eastern traditional of iconography with Christ reaching out for only Adam, while Eve’s hands – which are reaching out for Jesus – are covered because she touched the Tree of Life.
The choice of color and the use of color as a representational element add another link to a more Byzantine Greek Orthodox style. The paintings feature gold in the majority of its images to represent the Divinity. In the west, divinity might be depicted with a halo, but the artists have generally relied upon deeper colors, such as reds, blues, greens and other dominant shades in their work.
In summary, the unique style of the paintings appropriately adorns the architectural design of this Caribbean island church to create a destination that every visitor to the Turks and Caicos Islands should see. The best time to visit the Our Lady of Divine Providence Church is on Sunday morning at 9AM when you can take in the Sunday mass and hear one of the divinely inspired sermons delivered through the mouthpiece of Fr. Peter, the mission pastor.