Art: Christus Rex
The Christus Rex (Christ the King) which is above the altar in St. Francis’ Church was presented to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Margaret Forbes Staerker, Joe Benjamin, Frank Crain Sr., and Elmo Von Allmen, by Margaret Staerker Benjamin, Winifred Staerker Von Allmen, and Corinne Staerker Crain in 1965.
The Christus Rex is an ancient symbol of the Church emphasizing the Glory rather than the suffering of our Lord, as did the later Crucifix. The crown on the figure represents Jesus’ Lordship over all….“ for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.” The eyes are open and the wounds show in hands and feet symbolizing Our Lord’s victory over death and suffering. “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believe’.” (St. John 20:27)
The figure is mounted “in the air” symbolizing Our Lord’s ascension into Heaven, (“….as they were look on, he was lifted up ….” (Acts 1:9) The inner garment is the robe of a prophet, which our Lord is. “So they again said to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet’.” (St. John 9:17)
The outer garments are priestly, to remind us that “He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” (Hebrews 7:24) and that “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to symbolize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4: 14-16) The arms are outstretched, making with the body the form of the cross, symbolizing that our Lord offers Himself for the salvation of us all.
The Christus Rex is not an attempt to realistically depict Our Lord, as good symbols are always representatives and representations, but to remind us of who He is: the Savior who became incarnate, was victorious over suffering and death, who now reigns in Heaven as Lord of all, pleading before the throne of God as High Priest, His offering of Himself for us.
Written by Michael Lance Allbright before his death in 1979.