Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ade Bethune

This sculpture by Ade Bethune now graces the entrance to my home. A beautiful rendition of the Madonna and Child, this and a figure of Joseph by the liturgical artist were commissioned by John Stokes and several copies are part of the collection of his work that was left to the Marian Library. Each statue is stamped “Copyright Mary Gardens.”

This sculpture of the Madonna and Child is a treasured gift from the Marian Library.

Ade’s life is a litany of good works.  Born in Belgium in 1914, Ade immigrated to New York with her parents in 1928.  From 1933 to 1938 she was closely associated with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker movement. She designed the masthead and provided the illustrations for the Catholic Worker.

She established herself as a liturgical artist and consultant in church architecture in the 1940s and from the 1960s until her death was art director of the Terra Sancta Guild of Broomall, Pa., which produced church furnishings, liturgical objects, memorial cards and religious objects for home use.

The gifted and skilled artist was a sculptor, painter, mosaic artist, wood carver, and jewelry and metal worker.

She was also a social activist. Ade was a founder of the Church Community Housing Corporation in Newport, R.I., in1969. She designed the prototype house for the corporation’s building program and directed the construction of many such units throughout Newport County.

In 1991 she founded a nonprofit corporation, Star of the Sea, to provide living quarters for the elderly. In conjunction with the Housing Corporation, Star of the Sea acquired the unused property of Cenacle Convent, and Ade oversaw the refurbishing of the site’s structures into a state-of-the-art facility to house the elderly.

Ade Bethune died May 1, 2002, at her home in Newport, R.I. She was an oblate of Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island and is buried there.

 Like “every artisan and master artisan” (Sirach 38:27), she “labored by night as well as by day,” set her heart on making a “lifelike image” and was “diligent in making a great variety” of work.


  1. What a fascinating story about the sculptor, Ade Bethune, and to hear about her connections with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. So historical and interesting. And then there's the statue---it is beautiful! Thank you, Vincenzina for providing us with such an article. Mary Hansen

  2. And the statue looks beautiful in your own Mary's Garden. It is very unusual and quite stunning. What a treasure you have and so deserving of this gift.