St. Francis & St. Clare - CODAworx

St. Francis & St. Clare

Submitted by Karen Schmidt Sculpture

Client: The Franciscan Renewal Center

Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $98,000

Project Team


Karen Schmidt

Karen Schmidt Sculpture


Norbert Zwickl

The Franciscan Renewal Center, The Casa


St. Francis and St. Clare was commissioned by The Franciscan Renewal Center: The Casa, in Scottsdale, AZ, to be installed in the ambulatory of their church yet to be built. The requirement to the artist, Karen Schmidt, was to create a 3/4-life size sculpture of St. Francis and St. Clare, depicting St. Francis at the end of his life, when he was weak and ill and being cared for by St. Clare and the sisters. They wanted to communicate him passing the mantle to Clare, and also present an invitation to the viewer to serve others in tangible ways.


Liturgical art is created to fulfill a critical role in the sacred space and liturgy of a church. The subject, design, and scale must work in relation to the design and function of the space and also to the other pieces of art in the building. For an example, the art glass windows are based on St. Francis' "Canticle of the Sun" and this sculpture will be placed by the window, "Sister Death" because it depicts St. Francis at the end of his life. The scale of the sculpture is 3/4-life instead of life-size because of it's relationship in size to the altar, which is the focus in the mass.


Sculptor, Karen Schmidt was recommended by Mark Joseph Costello, liturgical design consultant for the new church building, Our Lady of the Angels, the church at the Franciscan Renewal Center, The Casa. The design consultant worked with the architect and church design committee. All the artists were brought into the project early in the process to gain an understanding of the design elements and issues, and see how their work fits into the overall space and relates to the other works of art and church furnishings. The artists worked closely with the committee and design consultant throughout the design phase in order to communicate visually the spiritual concepts of Franciscan spirituality and fulfill their vision for the art. Karen presented two different clay sketches, and one 1/4-life maquette was created for the chosen design. Many photos and conversations were shared throughout the creative process.

Additional Information

The committee decided not to wait until the building was completed to install St. Francis and St. Clare. The sculpture was installed outdoors on the property and will be moved to the ambulatory of the church when construction is completed in 2016 or 2017.