This week, we begin our tour through the lives of Saints who in their own times and contexts were faithful to Jesus Christ and witnesses to the God who is made known in Jesus of Nazareth. Over the next five weeks, we will tour through the lives of seven such saints–Mary Magdalene, Claire and Francis (both of Assisi), Saint Luke the Evangelist, Augustine of Hippo and Monica, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Sunday, students will have the opportunity to identify some representative symbols connected to the stories of each saint’s life, and use those symbols to make a flat saint which they will focus on until our celebration of All Saints on November 1. To that end, there will be no “hearing the story” component. This week, we will see the story and in the weeks that follow, hear the stories of the saints, one saint at a time.
1. Students will see the stories of the Saints
2. Students will create a saint which they will be responsible for studying until All Saints day on Sunday, November 1.
3. Students will identify some of the symbols of particular Saints.
See the Story
We will attend to the stories of each of our saints (and the significance of their symbols) later, but today we will focus on seeing the stories of their lives through the history of Christian art and iconography.
Use the images for each Saint listed below and scroll through them with your class on a computer or ipad (We have many saint and art books in our supply closet. If you choose to use these resources as a supplement, please don’t read the stories yet. I promise we will get to those in upcoming weeks!).
As a class, make a list of all the repeated symbols you see in the images of each saint. For example, you may begin with Mary Magdalene. Pull each images up on the screen and ask your students to notice and identify somes of the details they see (Young children may need a bit of help with this “where’s Waldo?” style search. Then move on to the next image for that saint, noticing similarities and differences.
Students might notice, for example, that in images of Mary Magdalene, she is often wearing red, pictured with a skull, or holding a bedazzled container of some kind. Write a list of what you see.
*Note: Teachers of younger groups may want to choose just two, three, or four of the saints below on which to focus. Children may also need some direction “I wonder if you can spot the red dress.” or “I wonder if you can find the same perfume bottle that we just saw in our last picture” or “a picture of Mary and Jesus is hiding in this picture. Can you find it?”*
Saint Luke the Evangelist: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6
Common symbols: book, ox or winged ox, Madonna and child, paintbrushes, icons of Mary and Jesus, Physician symbol (snake and rod).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Image 1, Bonhoeffer wore glasses and was often pictured with a book. He was also a martyr, so students may like to know that martyrs are often pictured in red or white. Students may make a flat saint of Bonhoeffer as he is a saint we will cover, but they will need to create their own symbols. There are few pictures of him and unlike our other saints, he is much more recent a figure. There is no long history of his likeness in Christian art, but his story is very important and children will likely find it interesting when we cover him.
Respond to the Story
Make Flat Saints:
You will need:
- An assortment of two dimensional materials from the supply closet. Multicolored paper (construction paper, tissue paper, and cardstock), tracing paper, watercolor paper and watercolors. We don’t have magazines, but if you would like to add Magazine clippings and collage as a possible medium, feel free to bring some to cut up.
- glue sticks
- Paper people (I will put these out in each classroom)
- Description cards to glue on the back (provided in each classroom
- List of symbols that your class created for each Saint.
Each child should select a saint from the list above based on their interest in the Saint. They should create a likeness of the Saint, utilizing some of the symbols your class discussed. There is no wrong way to do this. The only guideline is that the materials students use to create the saints need to be two-dimensional in order to fit through our laminator.
Don’t send the Saints home yet! I will laminate the saints this week and students will be able to take them home next week along with a letter to parents (explaining the project) and a booklet in which they can record their findings on their saint. Remember to write student names on the Saints! One aspect of this project will encourage families to take photos while they are about their daily work, and submit photos with the hashtag #CHFSaints. Fun fact: Our clergy and other staff will be participating in this part too!