In 2016, the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, neighboring the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, commissioned Simon Toparovsky to create life-size cast bronze portrait busts for liturgical instruction and spiritual inspiration united in an intimate shrine for private meditation– with the intention that it would become an important devotional space in the new church, designated last year by Pope Francis. The commission continues to foster the rich tradition of channeling creativity in this parish specifically and aligns with the Vatican’s historical role as major patron, re-affirming its commitment to work with contemporary artists to harness the evangelizing power of art.
Using his narrative skills as a visual poet, Toparovsky’s sculptures depict John the Apostle and Evangelist, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, together after the Resurrection, with a focus on the closeness of their relationship as they lived together, taking care of one another as Christ had called for them to do from the Cross. The elements of the newly constructed shrine home he designed for the Co-Cathedral sanctuary include major free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures; architectural components of wood and native stone; digital imagery; wall art and theater lighting. A ceiling oculus represents the portal to heaven, a path from the Source that illuminates John and Mary.
The unveiling of the permanent installation was celebrated with public and private events in late July 2019.