by Joe Bollig
Hanging in the entrance of Holy Trinity School is a large painting, a recent addition on loan for the purpose of teaching children about eucharistic adoration.
The 30 by 43-inch painting is a copy of “Let the Little Children Come to Me,” by Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein. The original oil on canvas was painted in 1805 and hangs in the Gallery of Modern Art in Florence, Italy. The copy was probably made around 1910.
The painting, which belongs to Father Ric Halvorson, was left in the care of Lesle Knop when Father Halvorson left the archdiocese last July to teach at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago.
The history of this painting is somewhat murky. Allegedly, it hung in a convent in Iowa. When the convent closed, it was given to a relative of a nun, who in turn gave it to her former husband.
“I noticed the painting of Jesus and the children,” Father Halvorson later wrote. “It was hard to see because it was covered by a thick layer of dust.”
Sometime later, the man died. Father Halvorson went to the home one last time to bless the body.
“[I] was in my car ready to leave and the son came out . . . with the painting,” Father Halvorson wrote, “and said his mother wanted me to have it. So, I loaded it in the back of my Explorer.”
With each of Father Halvorson’s pastoral assignments, the painting ended up stored in garages and became a bit more battered and worn. He asked Knop to find someone to restore it, which she did. When the eucharistic adoration program began at Holy Trinity School, she asked Father Halvorson if they could use it as a catechetical aid.
Often, when a student walks past the painting, they will blow it a kiss.