27 Aug 2008
|From Big Red Barn RV Park – Carthage, MO
Those big-eyed, porcelain angelic figurines that are adored by millions and collected and cherished by so many were the focus of today. It was Carthage, Missouri that Samuel J. Butcher’s search for that perfect place to live and work finally ended.
In 1984 on an overnight stop while on a business trip, he was shown 17 ½ quiet, peaceful acres that had trees, hills and a stream all of which he had dreamed of finding. The very next year construction began on the Precious Moments Chapel that today houses his ministry of art.
Today the chapel is sometimes referred to as “America’s Sistine Chapel” because of the 1400 square feet of painted ceiling reaching 32 feet above the floor. This was painted depicting 75 angels by Mr. Butcher while at times lying on his back much like Michelangelo when painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
The chapel contains 10,000 square feet of inspired artwork, 84 biblical hand painted murals and 30 biblical verses and stories in stained glass. Even the three large doors at the front of the chapel were hand carved by Mr. Butcher.
The chapel is divided into two sections; the left wall as you enter has paintings, artwork and stained glass windows depicting stories and verses from the Old Testament of the bible. On your right as you enter the chapel artwork, paintings and stained glass windows are of stories and verses found in the New Testament.
At the front of the chapel visible as you enter is the large mural called “Hallelujah Square”. This theme reflects his deep belief that within each of us is the hope of Jesus Christ and thus painted heaven through the eyes of a child.
There have been many changes in this mural over the years as he has been inspired by individuals whom he has painted a memorial to them within this mural. He has also added depth of color and more detail along the way, as well as adding many additional angels. A significant addition was the military unit which is a tribute to all those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.
On each side of Hallelujah Square, are two other large murals. To the right the mural is called “Graduation Day” (sorry for some reason we did not get a picture of this mural) and shows little angels waiting in line to receive their halos. To the left is a mural entitled “Promises of Everlasting Peace”. Here stories and scriptures emphasize peace within people, between people and among nations. Painted within both of the side murals are again real people represented as memorials to them.
On two hallways either side of the chapel is where many of the stained glass windows can be seen. The ones on the left side tell the 23rd Psalm from the Old Testament and on the right are the Beatitudes told through stained glass artwork. Mr. Butcher designed all of these and all the other stained glass windows seen in the chapel.
The gardens surrounding the chapel and the Samuel J. Butcher Museum are filled with fountains, a pond, bronze statues and figurines. There is even a castle on an island in the creek that was made for his grandchildren to enjoy.
Resurrection Cave is just outside of the chapel found at the base of one of the hills within the complex. It was here that a small opening to a cave was found by Mr. Butcher and he immediately thought of the resurrection and empty tomb. Today there is an angel sitting at the entrance with a cross in the foreground. It can only be observed from a distance, no entry into the cave is allowed.
The Avenue of Angels is a beautiful walk under large shade trees and on either side are statues of angels and plaques with names of individuals as memorials. At the end of this walk is one of the beautiful fountains that can be found on the grounds.
It truly was a day filled with inspiration and beauty found in the many art forms completed by Mr. Butcher. This again is an attraction that you must see for yourself to truly capture the beauty and awe struck feeling that comes over you. I will never again look at a big-eyed, angelic Precious Moments figurine without remembering the history learned and the beauty seen today in Carthage, Missouri.
A strange thing transpired as we walked the path back to the entrance of the gardens to leave. For some reason, I continued to look at random memorial plaques placed on the ground at intervals along the stone walkway path and one made me stop in my tracks. The words read “In Loving Memory Of Louise Giese From Her Friends In Texas”. You see, my Nana’s (grandmother’s) maiden name was “Louise Giese” and she lived in Texas having many, many friends.
Was it meant for my Louise “Nana” Giese? Probably not, but in my eyes today and in my memory forever I will always have a feeling that I was meant to see this memorial and it was God’s way of assuring me that she too has made the journey to Hallelujah Square where there are “No More Tears”.