Thomasian papal artist: Share God-given gifts through art

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Thomasian ecclesiastical artist Wilfredo "Willy" Layug at his book launching last Sept. 11 at the Arzobispado de Manila. Photo by Miah Terrenz Provido

Thomasian ecclesiastical artist Wilfredo “Willy” Layug on Monday urged the Catholic faithful to use their God-given gifts through art in his book launching event at the Arzobispado de Manila.

“As lay, as an artist, ginagawa namin role namin through ecclesiastical art. Katekismo in art. ‘Yun siguro ang iiwanan naming mumunting kontribusyon in our lifetime,” said Layug during the launching of “Willy Tadeo Layug,” a book on his ecclesiastical works.

The book features Layug’s works such as the seven-foot tall Our Lady of Palo statue in Tacloban City in Leyte and the crucifix used in the Quirino grandstand which were both used during the papal visit of Pope Francis in 2015.

Layug, a fine arts alumnus of UST, received the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice award last March 2016 for his hyperrealist sculptures depicting Catholic faith. The award is the highest honor given by the Catholic Church to a lay person.

Despite risk on idolizing statues, he said deeper understanding of faith is needed so sculptures may be used to evangelize.

“As an ecclesiastical artist, mayroon akong obligasyon sa society na what is happening today, ‘yong mga killings, interpret through art [at] kung paano ka makakatulong at ma-enlighten ‘yong other side,” Layug added.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said artists offer an outlet for the restoration of the sacredness of life and dignity of the poor.

“Redemption is in the love that responds to dignity, that makes even the poorest and the most miserable person beautiful – a work of art. Artists have been captivated by the love that makes someone capable of bearing suffering as gift to others,” Tagle said.

Tagle lauded Layug for his continuously sharing his God-given works.

“I think one of the tragedies of our lives is when gifts that are given stop being gifts [and] they become possessions – owned and not anymore shared. We thank a person like Willy who did not think his gifts only for his own consumption,” he said.

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