Thursday, November 17, 2011

A bounty of.... SAINTS!

Last year I had the privilege of participating in a wonderful Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange. (See a post about it here.) This year I was part of another really awesome, very unique exchange.

It all started back in August at the Retreat for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers when we made wooden peg saint dolls for the participants. Several of us decided we wanted to start a collection of these saint dolls for our children. So, we decided to do a saint doll exchange.

A few months ago we signed up to be part of the exchange and decided which saints we were going to make. One of the moms ordered all of the wooden dolls for us. Then last month we got together at a library one evening and got to work. A few of the more experienced "saint painters" gave us some pointers and showed us examples of saint dolls they'd painted. 

 I love these kinds of crafty work nights. They remind me of the quilting bees of yore. It's so relaxing and fun to visit with one another while also keeping our hands busy creating something of great meaning and value.

Then we had to go home to do the real work.... painting the features and details onto 20 dolls!

I chose to do Saint Martin de Porres. I admire his humility and willingness to do the daily, menial tasks (even though his spiritual gifts were astounding, including the gift of healing). He became known as "Brother Broom" as he was always busy with his janitorial duties around the monastery. He also was known for his care for (and ability to converse with) animals, even mice. Many people sought the advice and counsel of this humble, mulato Dominican lay brother, even powerful leaders of the Church.

I spent many evenings sitting at my work table laboriously painting little rosaries, crucifxes, mice, brooms, dogs, eyes..... The first few painting sessions were prayerful as I pondered the life and virtue of this great saint and asked for his intercession. But as time went on, I have to admit it was a challenge. These little guys took a lot of work! (You may have noticed a few weeks of very light blogging here!) But it was so worth it! Here's how they turned out -----

And so last night was the big night of the saint exchange. It's funny how excited we all were! We gathered at the library again, this time with our finished saint dolls. Twenty-two ladies each brought 20 BEAUTIFULLY painted saints!

 After much admiring (oohing and aahhing) and some snacking and visiting (we're really good at that), we gathered around these little dolls and blessed them and prayed for the intercession of all the saints they represent.

Then, we each had the opportunity to choose twenty saint dolls to take home. It was like filling a basket with great treasure!

This morning the boys were very excited to see the saint dolls! They were impressed.

Interestingly, they didn't really care about the names or stories of the saints, but they loved lining them up and "parading" them around the table. (I'll be sure to tell the stories and help the boys learn about these saints all through the year.)

 As I was painting over the last few weeks Adam was just dying to get in on the action. Finally, I found some smaller wooden dolls and let him go for it. Well, he turned them into Mario characters (of course). Those Mario characters jumped right in with the saints this morning!

 Here's how Ray set up his work area for school today ---

 Here's a look at some of the awesome saint dolls from last night. The details, variety, and "personalities" are awesome!

 This was such a great experience! It is amazing to have friends with whom to share these kinds of projects. We're already talking about doing another round of saints in the winter! 

May these saint dolls bring our children delight and inspire them to imitate the saints as they journey toward heaven. All you holy men and women, pray for us! 


  1. How awesome, wanted to do the exchange but knew it would be hard to get out at night with baby! What better way to do school than surrounded by saints and Mario! :)

  2. My art critic, Abe, evaluated each saint, without knowing who painted which one, and said, "St. Martin DePorres is the best. You thought it took you a long time. It most of took them a lot longer. And they're just more artistic than you." So you attention to details did not go unrecognized. He is beautiful! But they all are! It's so exciting to have them all!