Triumph of the Forgotten Underdog This Holy Week

Ring of light - statue as built by underdog celebrating Holy Week
“Ring of Light,” by Carol Schiraldi, 2024, iPhone 15 Pro Max, Havana, Cuba

It’s Holy Week. This is the most sacred week of the calendar for some religious folks. As a photographer, I have always wanted to do something special for Holy Week. Be it travel to Jerusalem (a place I have yet to photograph) or head to a land where they reenact the crucifixion live in the streets, it’s one of those events I have always wanted to participate but never gotten to do anything for it. Maybe someday, right?

There’s something about churches, religion, and mission architecture that really resonates with my work and inspires my artistic eye. I love the fact that many of these buildings and statues were made by common, everyday folks who toiled away at creating their perfect masterpiece. The story behind La Sagrada Familia? Oh, I was so into that! Even statues like you see here and smaller churches, they capture my attention because of the details and the work that goes into them. You don’t even have to go to a famous cathedral either, although it’s always a nice treat when you do get to visit one. Often, you can find this wonderful work in smaller out of the way places. We found one when I was visiting Cuba and there are even some in Texas near where I live. Lots of places like this, with stories to tell and craftsman who were once devoted to making it right. Sometimes, they pop up in small towns and out of the way villages and it’s a real joy to discover one of these locations.

I think part of the draw for me is that I am attracted to the triumph of the underdog. Of course, there is also a metaphoric response, a deeper meaning in the spiritual side of religious art and architecture. Churches celebrate the afterlife and help us define our purpose. They give so many people meaning and inspiration, and I celebrate that too. Somehow though it’s the underdog and the resilience of building something that can stand the test of time, often without regard for acknowledgement. Many of these quiet buildings remain unrecognized, whispers of craftsman who remain nameless, leaving behind these wonderful works of art. Just think, there might be somebody out there toiling away, building the next great masterpiece, all in the name of the church, and all the while we don’t even know it’s happening. It’s amazing to think that this can happen, even in this modern day and age, a time when few look up from their cell phones.

So, this Holy Week, I celebrate the toils of the underdog and share a few images from my explorations into the spiritual side of life. I hope you enjoy them, even if you aren’t of the faith, these are some modern day masterpieces in their own regard, and I hope my camera showcases the beauty of the underdog.

Greek domed church on the Island of Santorini, Greece.
“Domed Church,” by Carol Schiraldi, Island of Santorini, Greece
White cross set against blue sky on the Island of Santorini, Greece.
“White Cross and Sky,” by Carol Schiraldi, Island of Santorini, Greece
Mission Bell tower set against a blue Texas sky at the San Antonio Missions.
“Bell Tower and Blue Sky,” by Carol Schiraldi, San Antonio Mission Train, San Antonio, Texas
Regla, patron saint of sailors, Havana, Cuba
“Regla in Blue,” by Carol Schiraldi, Havana, Cuba
Ornate church facade in Lima, Peru
“Repent! Ornate church facade, Lima, Peru,” by Carol Schiraldi

Until next time…

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