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The Ave Herald

Serving the community of Ave Maria, Florida


Festival Celebrates Arts at Ave Maria

This year, the annual Festival of the Arts, which celebrates music, drama, poetry, dance and the visual arts, included the first International Exhibition of Children's Art, as well as a concert by internationally-renowned singer Dana, a student theatrical performance and the awarding of a prize to the winner of a nationwide contest for the best poem about The Annunciation.artfest1a

Also part of the weekend's events was a display at Ave Maria Inspirations of ten original paintings from a book sold in the shop, Trail of Glory, illustrating key passages from the Gospel of St. John. (Right, one of the pictures displayed with the book - Photo by AnnaMarie Sanderson)  Five of those paintings will remain on display through Easter weekend.

The festival got under way Saturday afternoon with a free concert in the oratory by Dana, the internationally-known Irish recording artist, and the first woman to be awarded the San Benedetto Award for her work in defending life and the family. 

Dana sang inspirational songs and brought the message to praise God even when times are difficult, and to find joy in Him when times are good. Between songs, Dana added a touch of humor and involved the audience, most notably when she brought the children of the audience up front and sang a song with them.

artfest4aA number of musical performances also took place Sunday outside, such as the one at left in front of the oratory. (photo by AnnaMarie Sanderson)






More than 160  pictures from around the world were displayed in the windows of storefronts in La Piazza, showcasing entries in the International Exhibition of Children's Art. The Best in Show award went to an eight-year-old from Ukraine for his painting, right.

Events on Sunday also included the announcement of the winner of a nationwide poetry contest for the best poem about The Annunciation, as judged by AMU Literature Professors Dr. Michael Raiger and Dr. David Williams. 

 The winner was Michael Norton from Traverse City, Michigan, for his poem entitled St. Anne (below).

The festival's poetry committee also awarded "Ave Maria Poets Corner" awards to three poets in the Ave Maria extended community -- Fr. Robert McTeigue, Michael Novak and Patricia Sette.

Below is the winning poem. The three poems by recipients of the Poets Corner awards will be posted when received by The Ave Herald.


It must have been God's mercy made me sleep
So deep I never heard the angel walk
Into my daughter's room. Most times I keep
As clear an eye and ear as any hawk
On what is mine, but yes, I slept that night
And so I missed it all: the pulsing roar
Of those gigantic wings, the sea of light
Surging around the edges of the door,
The awful beauty of that shining face.
Those words, more awful still: Hail, full of grace. 

I can't imagine what I might have said
If I'd been in that room. A mother's love
So often  teeters on the brink of dread;
We wish our children safe and snug above
All other things, and fearing, come to doubt
God's goodness or the power of His grace.
In my alarm, I might have blurted out:
"Go take your blessing to some other place,
Some other woman's daughter. Let her part
Be small and safe - - this gift will break her heart."

So it was mercy, and what's done is done.
I see her in the courtyard now, the child
Asleep upon her lap. I watch her run
Her finger's through those sunlit curls and smile,
And would not wish away a thing so sweet.
But something moves here, dark as thundercloud:
Those purple shadows on His hands and feet,
That distant growl as of an angry crowd,
Demanding bread and miracles. And blood:
Three sticks stuck on a hillside in the mud.

Does Mary see them? Oh, I think she knows,
Has always known, and when she said, "Behold
The Lord's handmaiden," well, then, I suppose
She knew what she was doing. I've grown old
Inside and out, my love a fretful thing,
While she, for all her calm, burns like a flame.
She knows the worth of Him she's carrying
And who He is, and whence and why He came.
Each blow they give Him, she will feel it twice...
But then, she knows. She knows. It must suffice.

                                    Michael A. Norton


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