Bible in Bronze
“Bible in Bronze”—from left to right: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Living Church—by Jill Burkee and Giancarlo Biagi, bronze and mosaic at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando, FL.
The “narrative” church portal is among the oldest, most magnificent traditions in all of sacred art and architecture. Fitted with door panels ornately sculpted in bronze relief, together with archway images and brilliant mosaics, such entrance-ways have helped unfold the Christian message across two millennia.
The left archway is The Portal of Abraham, a brilliantly-colored mosaic showing him as the Patriarch rising from behind a gathering of fourteen figures—half-life size three-dimensional sculpted bronzes—depicting the major and minor prophets. Set into the doors below, narrative panels, each 18” x 30”, convey principal themes from the Old Testament—among them, Adam, and Eve, Noah’s Ark, and Moses. Also included are six 18” bronze roundels in high relief, honoring personages from the Old Testament.
The center entrance portal, The Portal of the Good Shepherd, features a tympanum, or upper archway mosaic depicting Christ, The Good Shepherd as a backdrop for bronze-clad representations of the twelve Apostles. Below, two ceremonial doors are each fitted with six bronze panels, which highlight major Gospel narratives, from the Baptism of Jesus to the Resurrection, with six bronze roundels adding further images from the Gospels.
The third entrance, The Portal of Mary, is a celebration of faith—commemorating individuals and events largely identified with the rise and influence of Catholicism through two millennia. Above these two wntry doors, a large mosaic of Mary, the Mother of God, joins the principal fugures of the early Church, sculpted in bronze; while below, the entrance doors each feature six panels of high-relief—including bronze-clad images of the Nativity, Pentecost, and the Assumption of Mary.