A ‘New St Dominic’

In the Pauluskerk in Antwerp (Belgium), which is full of art from past centuries, a ‘new St. Dominic’ was revealed on Saturday 7 May, made by the Dutch painter Egbert Modderman.

The painting is a gift from the lay Domincans to the brothers of the new province of Belgian and the Netherlands, which will be formally erected by the end of May. The Prior of Antwerp fr. Didier Croonenberghs OP unveiled the man-sized canvas, together with lay Dominicans Karin Bornhijm (NL) and Tommy Vandendriesche (B). It was the crowning glory of day of study of Dutch and Flemish lay Dominicans, with about a hundred participants.

The painting shows Saint Dominic cleaning his feet before putting on his shoes, just before entering a city. It was created as a result of the project ‘Leven in Volheid’ (in translation: ‘Life in Fullness’. In this project, named after the translated book by fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP (English title: Alive in God), twelve artists and members of the Dominican family met about the Christian imagination. They created dance, music, theatre and other art in the process.

The internationally renowned young painter Egbert Modderman was invited by professor of theology and lay Dominican Stephan van Erp to work together. He asked the painter to create a new image of Saint Dominic. By means of crowdfunding, a substantial personal contribution and a donation of the Dutch province the painting could be realised.

At the presentation Egbert Modderman said that he noticed with how much affection Dominican sisters and brothers speak about their founder, who never put himself on the foreground and who, as Dominican historian Anton Milh put it, was often strict to himself but mild to others.

Modderman wanted to paint the gentleness, the contemplation and the earthiness of the holy mendicant brother. The story that St. Dominicus liked to travel barefoot but put on shoes when he went into a city had struck him.

There was a loud round of applause at the unveiling of the canvas. The painter Modderman, who became known for his depiction of Saint Martin for the protestant Martinikerk in Groningen, also indicated that he was really satisfied with the work. People described the the work as moving, deceptively simple, pointing a way in.

The painting is now in Antwerp and will find its destination.

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