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Etching Faith Onto Eggs
Christopher Heffron
Source: St. Anthony Messenger magazine
Published: Saturday, April 7, 2012
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Sr. Rita Keshock, O.S.B.M.
The Byzantine-style images on these rounded canvases linger in the mind long after you turn away: Mary, with the arms of the Christ Child coiled around her neck, looks onward with a gaze that is somber, wounded and wise. Another depicts Jesus wearing his crown of thorns. Blood trickles down his anguished face as a tear escapes his eye. A third is of the Holy Family huddled closely together, halos like rays from the sun.

Byzantine art is hardly a new phenomenon, yet the vehicles for these particular pieces make them all the more extraordinary. Created on goose eggs—which are larger and easier to work with than the standard chicken egg—the icons themselves seem galvanized, taking on a three-dimensional feel.

The artist, Sister Rita Keshock, O.S.B.M., a member of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great from the Province of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, retired in 1985 from education after 36 years. Then she focused her attention on this form of expression. Skilled in art throughout her life, Sister Rita, now 79, saw a way to merge her faith and her creativity.

“I hated to leave the teaching profession, but I wanted to continue with art that I never had a chance to do before,” she says in a phone interview with St. Anthony Messenger.

“There was a local man who was teaching this technique and he showed all the sisters. I groaned and said, ‘Oh, my goodness! I don’t think it’s possible because there is so much detail.’”

That initial uncertainty was understandable. In the next 22 years, Sister Rita would experience both agony and ecstasy in developing that skill.

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