Polish artist designs stunning monstrances with Virgin Mary: ‘Beauty leads to God’

Monstrance One of the 12 altars for perpetual adoration that represent the “crown of 12 stars” on the Virgin Mary’s head blessed by Pope Francis. | Screenshot from EWTN News In Depth

A Polish artisan and jeweler is hoping that his craft leads people to God. After experiencing a miraculous healing, he decided to dedicate his life to sacred art and, in particular, to creating monstrances that house the Body of Christ worldwide.

“God is beautiful and we want to adore God,” Mariusz Drapikowski told EWTN News In Depth on July 30. “Beauty leads to God and we can only bring people to God when they feel that they're in front of his presence and his beauty.”

The Catholic artist plans to do just that with his latest project: creating 12 altars for perpetual adoration that represent the “crown of 12 stars” on the Virgin Mary’s head, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Every altar is site specific, or tailored to its location, and includes elements of the local art. But the altars also have something in common: a Marian-themed monstrance.

Adorned with precious metals or jewels, Drapikowski’s monstrances feature a figure of Mary embracing the host in her arms as she would Baby Jesus. In some of them, flowers or vines gently encircle the Blessed Mother and the Blessed Sacrament.

These altars use beauty to draw in adorers worldwide.

“The first such center was established in Jerusalem, the next one in Kazakhstan,” Drapikowski said. “Then we also built in South Korea and the Philippines. Then we went to Africa, Kibeho in Rwanda.”

They are also located in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, and Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two more are planned for the Americas, one for Australia and another for Papua New Guinea.

Drapikowski spoke to EWTN News In Depth from Niepokalanów, Poland, which also has one of his works. At this particular location, EWTN broadcasts and live streams adoration. It is known as the largest online adoration in the world, attracting an average of 300 people online at any one time.

“We build beautiful architecture, beautiful churches in order to make our prayer more profound, creating the atmosphere so that we are more concentrated and more receptive and sincere,” Drapikowski explained. He pointed to St. Pope John Paul II who, in his letter to artists, quoted the famous artist Marc Chagall as saying, “for centuries artists have been dipping their brushes into the colorful alphabet of faith and beauty that is the gospel.” 

According to Drapikowski, “this too is a source of inspiration for me.” 

Drapikowski is familiar with the late pontiff and met with him several times with family. His last – and most memorable – meeting with St. John Paul II came on December 10, 2003, in Rome. That’s when, he said, he experienced a miracle.

“I became very ill at the age of 40 and the disease, which was supposed to be mild, took a very acute, violent course,” Drapikowski remembered. “When I walked in, I had to hold on to my wife's arm to keep from falling over and getting lost.”

During the meeting, he promised the pope that he would create an amber dress for the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Jasna Góra Monastery in Poland.

“For someone who can hardly see anymore, such a commitment is irrational, impossible to make,” Drapikowski admitted. “It was influenced by emotion, by the moment, by the meeting with the Holy Father. It was said so spontaneously that the Holy Father smiled and put his hand on my head and blessed me.”

That’s when everything changed.

“There wasn't any electric current that went through me,” he stressed. “But after a week, I regained my sight so I could fulfill my commitment.”

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In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI later prayed in front of the icon adorned in her amber dress. Likewise, Pope Francis has seen Drapikowski’s work and blessed his altar for Kibeho, Rwanda, during the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

Drapikowski saw his miraculous healing as a sign that he should focus on sacred art.

“So today, I do what I do because I was given help,” he concluded. “I had to devote myself to creativity. To do what I do.”

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