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Artist shares ‘The COVID Rosary,’ other works at church

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SAN DIEGO – A unique rosary inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic is among three artistic creations on exhibit in the narthex of Our Mother of Confidence Church.

Artist Esther Delao, who has long found the rosary to be “a source of hope and strength,” was inspired to make her rosary by the pandemic.


“I was thinking of the devastation of this disease … and how we all suffer, whether we’ve been ill or we have someone that we know that has been ill,” she said.


In place of beads, the rosary is composed of small crosses. Each of the 50 Hail Mary’s represents 50,000 people who have died from COVID-19; collectively, they represent the more than 2.5 million people worldwide who have lost their lives to the coronavirus. The color scheme of gray, yellow and red comes from the predominant colors in representations of the microscopic virus.


In Our Mother of Confidence Church, “The COVID Rosary” can be seen hanging from another of Delao’s artworks: Titled “Gift,” it is a large wooden cross adorned with an assortment of items, all of which have symbolic meaning.


The cross’ adornments include small crosses in honor of those most in need of mercy, small nails that represent our daily offenses, small twigs with white ribbon and sprigs of baby’s breath symbolizing victims of abortion, and more. Strands of lights extending from the cross to the floor symbolize the hope of the Resurrection.


“The idea [is] that we bring everything to the cross … and there’s transformation,” Delao said.


“The COVID Rosary” and “Gift” have been on display since Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17; easels beside them feature detailed explanations of their symbolic meaning. On March 17, they were joined by “The Agony,” Delao’s oil painting of the Agony in the Garden on a 5-by-6-foot canvas.

The exhibition is expected to continue through Holy Week, providing parishioners and others with an opportunity to gaze upon them and engage in Lenten reflection.


Delao hopes that visitors will reflect on “the brokenness, not only of the world, but their own brokenness, and thereby know that there’s hope in coming to the cross.”


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