On the outside of the theater entrance showcases several religious artworks: Saint Cecilia, Saint Genesius, and Fra Angelico.

artwork of saints on theatre entrance.

Mount St. Joseph University is graced by some of the most beautiful art work in the city.  Some of it was produced by talented students of the school. On the outside of the theater entrance, there hangs art of which The Mount is very proud: a representation of Saint Cecilia, Saint Genesius and Fra Angelico.  As you read their stories you will see how fitting it is that they became the patrons of different aspects of the arts as developed through the centuries.

If we are to believe the different spins to his story, St. Genesius was a man who underwent a conversion much like St. Paul’s.  Genesius initially did not believe in Christianity.  As leader of a Roman theatrical troupe, he made fun of it on stage.  While doing so one day, he experienced a sudden conversion, and claimed his new faith.  This was during the time when emperor Diocletian rescinded the legal rights of Christians, which Genesius refused to obey by giving up his faith.  Diocletian ordered him to be beheaded.  In honor of his sacrifice, Genesius was venerated as the patron saint of actors, clowns, comedians, converts, dancers, musicians, printers, epileptics and those who have been tortured.  The newly founded Fraternity of St. Genesius supports those who work in theater and cinema.  His feast day is Aug. 25.

Cecilia was another canonized person whose life story seemed to take twists and turns through the centuries.  There is no dispute that she came from a noble family and suffered martyrdom.  Having taken a vow of virginity, she was nevertheless forced to marry a pagan.  During the wedding she sang to God in her heart, thus becoming the patron saint of musicians.  She is often portrayed with a musical instrument in her hands.  Her new husband was named Valerian.  Rather than submit to the consummation of their marriage, Cecilia told him that the Lord’s angel would punish him if he tried to make her do so, but that God would bless him if he honored her wishes.  Valerian followed her advice to be able to see the angel that she said was watching them,  and to be baptized by Pope Urban I. 

There is a legend that after Valarian and his brother were martyred, Cecilia was struck three times in the neck with a sword for her martyrdom, and lived for three days afterward.  When her body was disinterred and reburied almost 1400 years later, it was found not to have undergone decomposition.  Her feast day is Nov. 22.

Fra Angelico was an Italian painter who lived in the 15th Century.  A Dominican friar, his work preserved the religious piety of the times.  He painted religious subjects exclusively, as traditional altarpieces, and for monasteries and the Vatican.  The term “Fra” indicates fraternity or brotherhood, which is appropriate since he belonged to the Dominican Order into which he was ordained between 1423 and 1425.  Cosimo de Medici of the famed de Medici family became his patron to decorate the Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence, Italy. There he painted  a large Crucifixion as well as an Annunciation, and 45 frescoes  His wonderful artistry caused Pope Eugene IV and  Pope Nicolas V to commission his work for the Vatican and the cathedral.

In recognition of the holiness of his life, Pope John Paul beatified Fra Angelico in 1982, and in 1984 declared him the patron of  artists.  He is the only artist ever canonized.  His piety and abstinence from wealth became noteworthy.  The quality of his work has influenced artists even into the current century.  His feast day is Feb. 18.