Cambridge artist's monstrance a gift to Benedict XVI

  • May 14, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI accepts a monstranceWhen he was designing a monstrance around the idea of the Holy Trinity a decade go, sculptor Achim Klaas never thought he would be presenting it to the Pope.

But that’s exactly what happened April 21 when Klaas, 59, met Pope Benedict XVI and gave him the monstrance as a gift just days after the official celebration of the Pope’s five-year pontificate.

Klaas, owner of Klaas Design Inc. in Cambridge, Ont., is a designer and sculptor of liturgical art. He said it is an honour to have his artwork as part of the Vatican’s collection of centuries-old monstrances.

Klaas said he had a brief chat with the Pope who immediately identified Adam and Eve on the monstrance and asked him questions about its detailed artwork.  

The monstrance stands about 60-cm high and is cast in bronze with a 12-cm diameter 24-karat gold luna. The base is carved in wood in fine detail.

The idea for the monstrance began about 15 to 20 years ago when Klaas thought about doing a motif around the Eucharist. Klaas said the design and construction evolved over time.

Its design and symbolic references “place the mystery of salvation in the context of the Holy Trinity.”

It began to take shape during the Jubilee Year in 2000, which had an emphasis on the Holy Trinity. This is represented in the upper half’s design representing the Holy Spirit through the dove and flame. The lower section represents God the Father by His creation: Adam and Eve, flora and fauna, birds and fish, while the stand at the base of the Tree of Life represents Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity. The vine is symbolic of Christ who brings salvation, he said.

Klaas said he received an invitation to present the monstrance to the Pope last year after the design was submitted to the Vatican by two priests from the London diocese.

The whole experience was a thrill for Klaas.

“It was amazing just to be within St. Peter’s Square and the sheer majesty and size of everything and the grandeur,” Klaas said.

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