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Portrait of Sister Dulcissima – testimony

One day, Sr. Małgorzata Cur from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate from Brzezie called me.

She expressed her desire for a picture of the handmaid of God, Sr. Dulcissima, to be created, because only a few photos are preserved, and only on some of them Sr. Dulcissima is in her monastic habit. The photos were of very poor quality, but I figured I had painted various portraits so many times that I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. I know that preparing a portrait of saints or blessed is a deep, spiritual adventure and an invitation to an exceptional friendship. Painting is also a spiritual journey into oneself. This was also the case with the work on the portraits of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, Blessed Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński or Blessed Chiara Luce Badano.

Together with Małgorzata, we chose one photo, which was supposed to be a model for painting the portrait.

As always, I started my work by making a drawing, a sketch that I had to stick to when painting.

However, problems have already started here. The photo showed a dozen of sisters standing in one shot and despite the large magnification, it was very blurry … The faces were illegible and even blurry … the religious habits were visible only in the general outline.

I was wondering how to work on something like this? After all, it’s impossible to take a portrait of the person I see in a fog. I did not want to be discouraged at the very beginning, I tried to continue drawing … In the meantime, Sister Małgorzata sent me pictures of sisters in religious habit from those times, so that I could better see the details of the veil, habit and their elements …

However, my priority was the eyes. It’s just that the eyes were in the shadow in the photo and in addition all the photos were of course black and white … I started to get nervous …

At the beginning of my contact with my sister, it seemed to me that it was a problem to make another portrait, now I had a problem, and a serious one. The work went on, but it was very slow and not very effective. I rescued myself with other photos of Sister Dulcissima, taken before she entered the congregation. Some of Helena Hoffmann’s photos were a bit clearer and the eyes could be seen better. However, I know that the gaze changes with human maturity, especially spiritual … and with suffering that ennobles the soul. After all, the eyes are the mirror of the soul. I wanted to get to know God’s handmaid better. It was a turning point. I started reading materials about Sister Dulcissima and … I asked her to let me paint herself and to help me with that …

The portrait was almost ready … I took two steps back and … I was sad to see that the nun I painted is not Helena Hoffmann, she is not Sister Maria Dulcissima … I was helpless …

What was there to be done?

Desperate, I asked Sister Małgorzata to pray.

The sisters prayed and even ordered a mass. for the personal painter Sr. Dulcissima – that’s what Sr. Małgorzata called me.

Personal?

It was the first time that I had tears of emotion … I felt that I was undergoing some inner cleansing and that Sr. Dulcissima became very close to me …

I started working on the face of God’s servant all over again. Then I had an impression, which turned into such a conviction that all the time Sister Dulcissima kept her hand on mine and helped me paint herself.

It was an experience I had never had before. It was liberating from the artist’s own ego, who first and foremost trusts in his artistic abilities … and here we had to trust the intercession of the one whose beatification process is underway …

I painted the canvas white and made a sketch with a brush again … It was a brave and risky move … but it paid off … The canvas was very vivid, although it is only a sketch of a portrait of Dulcissima’s sister. And it is surprising that already in this sketch – the eyes appeared alive! I breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude.

The work was progressing smoothly …

The portrait was completed just before Christmas.

This experience helped me understand how powerful the intercession of the saints is, especially in times that are humanly hopeless. Sr. Maria Dulcissima helped me paint herself and I feel honored by this fact. She is not only a candidate for altars, whom I am asking for various intentions but she is also a holy companion of ordinary and extraordinary matters in which I adore the Love of God for us, expressed every day in many ways. Sister Dulcissima – please pray for us!

Tomasz Wachowicz

 

Trzcianka, 02/01/2022

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