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Two paintings on display in Hancock church

“Christ in the Garden” by Matti P. Kärnä is available for public viewing at the Church of the Resurrection.

HANCOCK — The Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Hancock has received two large paintings on extended loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center, now part of Finlandia Foundation National.

The arrangement allows the Finnish American Heritage Center to continue to ensure the safety and maintenance of the paintings, while the Church of the Resurrection provides a more visible and contextually significant location for their viewing by the general public.

“Christ in the Garden,” painted by Matti P. Kärnä in 1933 depicts Jesus praying outside of Jerusalem before being taken into custody on the night before he was crucified. Kärnä was a Finnish immigrant who lived between 1896 and 1943, ultimately settling in Massachusetts.

“Christ Crucified,” painted by Arthur G. Heickell, depicts Jesus on the Cross. The painting carries the unique feature of the sign above Jesus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Most depictions of the crucifixion only depict an abbreviated version of this message.

Heickell was a Finnish artist who lived from 1873 to 1958 and intended a brief visit to the United States and Canada but was unable to return home during World War I.

Both paintings subsequently hung in the Finnish Congregational Church of Quincy Massachusetts before coming into the possession of the Finnish American Heritage Center.

“I’m sure neither artist, both Finns who each came to the US over a century ago, ever imagined their work would someday travel from a Finnish church in Quincy, Massachusetts, all the way to Hancock, an area rich in its own Finnish heritage. The FAHC is happy to be able to share these paintings with a whole new audience, especially one that can appreciate them for both their history as well as their subject matter,” said Finnish American Heritage Center Archivist Joanna Chopp.

Chopp works at the Finish American Heritage Center and oversaw the physical transport of the paintings to the Church of the Resurrection. Chopp also prepared the documents establishing their provenance and the conditions of their loan to the Church of the Resurrection.

“I am so grateful to God for this opportunity to provide a permanent home to these beautiful and historical artworks. My prayer is that whenever someone looks at these, they will grow in their love for the Lord who gave his life for us and only desires our love in return,” said Father Corey Litzner, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection.

For more information, contact the Church of the Resurrection at 906-482-0215 and the Finnish American Heritage Center at 906-487-7347.

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