Sydney, Nova Scotia


Archipelago in Scotland

Daily Devotions from the URCinspiration in your inboxFollow on FacebookFollow on TwitterPodcastShare This on FacebookTweet thisForward to a FriendSaturday 13th April 2024 Navajo Compassionate Christ Christ by Fr John Giuliani
image used with kind permission of Marion Najamy 

Father John B. Giuliani was born Greenwich, Connecticut in 1932, to Italian immigrants to America.  After studying art for three years he studied for the Catholic priesthood and was ordained in 1960.  After some years teaching Fr Giuliani was given permission to establish a small monastic community of brothers who lived and worshipped together and ministered to a growing number of lay people who were attracted to a more contemplative style of worship and the call to missionary works of social justice.  Returning to the gift of his youth, in 1990 Fr Giuliani began painting icons of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the saints in a new and innovative way. The starting point was no longer across the ocean in Europe, but in the Americas. His icons are contextualized in the rich and varied cultural traditions of Native Americans throughout North, Central and South America.   As the USA prepared to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus stories of the violence and oppression suffered by the indigenous peoples of the Americas at the hands of the colonialists deeply affected Giuliani and profoundly changed his work. As an artist, priest, and person of Italian descent, he wanted to make his own personal reparation for the atrocities of the past. He began creating paintings of religious themes celebrating the lives and cultures of the indigenous peoples around him, resulting in a startling series of images.  In today’s painting know Christ by his halo and by the marks in his hands. But he is not dressed nor does he look as we expect.


Gazing on this portrait, both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, makes me ponder on God’s wonderful gift to us of creativity.

I have been struck, when I preach, that people are happy when they can say, “I see why that reading or this discussion is relevant to my life”. This icon offers a way of doing that too. Clearly the man pictured exudes compassion, his hands outstretched towards us, even if he doesn’t look as we expect. Of course, we don’t really know what Jesus looked like – but we do know he is interested in us, whoever and wherever we are.

I was interested to read that in Fr Giuliani’s case, this creativity sprang from a contemplative style of worship as this is a way I express my own faith. At a recent retreat I was involved in, we spoke with a nun who is also an icon painter. One of her icons depicted the disciples after the crucifixion in an upper room with Mary at the head of the table. According to the laws of iconography this space is traditionally left empty or occupied by Christ’s mother. This sister had chosen to put her there, imagining her as the mother figure galvanising the downcast disciples into action and urging them to take on the Commission that Jesus had left them. It seemed to me a female artist had restored the female voice in the story of God’s people. In the icon, we are praying with today, Fr. Giuliani depicts Jesus amidst those who suffered oppression, also making this beautiful icon an act of reparation and restoration of a people’s story.
Perhaps that is the reason for our creativity, to take what we know and add our own piece of the story. Perhaps then our creative witness will show why scripture is both ancient wisdom and living word because it helps to answer the question,  why is this relevant to me, where am I in this story?

God of all Creation, you saw what you made and saw it was very good
We thank you that you created us in your image
And that you imbued us with the gift of creativity
Help us to use it to praise you
And to act in witness to you
That all may know your wonder and your love for them
We ask this in Jesus name
AmenToday’s writerThe Rev’d Lisa Moore Wilson, Minister, Cumbria Missional PartnershipCopyrightNew Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Westport, CT.

Greensboro, North Carolina

Bridgeport, CT.

Just received the news regarding the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality in Bridgeport.The JBG legacy continues

November 30th celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Thomas Merton House of Hospitality! 

Founded by Father John Giuliani and Ev Avoglia and a generous team of folks of which I was blest to be part – from Sacred Heart University in those days.  Thanks to Carol and Bob Ferraro (long time volunteers from the Benedictine Grange) for carrying on the mission from the heart of what would become the Benedictine Grange.  One Bread, One Body…

Kathleen Deignan,CND

You’ll be pleased to learn that they are naming the conference room the 

Fr. John B. Giuliani Conference Room

New York

The Navajo Compassionate Christ included in the newest book by the renowned author James Martin, SJ.

  • JBG in St. Louis, MO

    The Social Justice Ministry from Christ, Prince of Peace Church, St. Louis MO. presented “Made in the Image of God” display for their Advent and Christmas season, 2022. It was a reflection on how we are all made in the image of God even though we may not look alike and be of different ethnic and cultural groups. Of course, JBG was included!

  • JBG in Torino, Italia

    When we say GLOBAL, we mean GLOBAL!

    We are thrilled to have JBG published in the missionary magazine, Andare alla Genti which is published by the Consolata Missionary Sisters in Italy. The Hopi Madonna and Child (known as the Barn Madonna) is the 1st of 6 images they will feature on the back pages of their 2023 publications.

    Thank you Sr. Allessandra Pulina

  • Exhibit at Bethel Lutheran Church, Madison Wisconsin, 2022-23

    We are very excited to have JBG icon reproductions exhibited in Madison. The icons will be displayed through the 1st week of January 2023. Thank you to the team that brought this work out into another part of our world as we continue to fulfill Fr. John’s mission.

    -photo courtesy of Kathy Hunt

  • Madison, Wisconsin Gallery Nights

    On Dec. 18, 2022 JBG ICON finished the 3rd session of presenting John and his work. (via Zoom )He was received with open arms as 10 icon reproductions grace the walls of one of the chapels at The Bethel Lutheran Church. Thank you Dana, Ann and Kathy for hosting us.