Sacred Passion

The Art of William Schickel, Second Edition

Gregory Wolfe
Foreword by James Martin, S.J.

“Here is an object—a book, a text, a generous portrait in images—which speaks as a sacramental does, revealed here in the chiasmic crossing between the contemporary and the ageless revealed in William Schickel’s paintings, stained glass, sculpture and architecture, interwoven with the brilliance and sensitivity of Greg Wolfe’s text hovering over those images. Insofar as a book can introduce us to the three- and four-dimensional world of the sacred, this is that book. Light, stone, earth, air, fire, and water: all fused here in the alembic of the contemporary Catholic imagination.” — Paul Mariani, Boston College

“One of my Franciscan Brothers used to say somewhat cynically to his high school students that art will not save your soul, but it can make your soul worth saving. I was reminded of these words in reading Gregory Wolfe’s book on William Schickel. Wolfe’s introduction to this important artist shows graphically how Schickel in all of his art, but especially in his public commissions, educates the heart by providing a sacred space where people are drawn together by the clean simplicity of his spaces and the images that he creates within those spaces. This is a book that itself educates the heart through its journey into the sacred passion of William Schickel.” — Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM

William Schickel was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1919 and raised in Ithaca, New York. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1944. In a consistently productive career spanning more than six decades, Schickel combined his skills as a sculptor, architectural designer, furniture designer, stained-glass artist, and painter with his deep personal faith to bring a healing vision to a number of American communities.

In addition to his many paintings and ritual arts creations, Schickel’s public works include the renovation of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, for which he received the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal Award; the Duchesne Memorial Shrine in St. Charles, Missouri; the Miami Valley Hospital Chapel in Dayton, Ohio; the “Rotunda of Creation” in the Cincinnati Center for Health and Wellness; the renovation of the Bellarmine Chapel in Cincinnati; the “Journeying with Christ” mural in the St. John Neumann Church in Canton, Michigan; and the Larry Hoffsis stained-glass window in the Epiphany Lutheran Church near Dayton, Ohio. Schickel and his wife Mary lived and raised their eleven children in Loveland, Ohio, where he established a design studio and gallery in 1948, both of which continue to flourish.

William Schickel died in July 2009, at the age of eighty-nine. He remained productive until the very end, continuing to paint every day despite the difficulties of poor vision and arthritis. In Gregory Wolfe’s words, “William Schickel offers an enduring model of an artist who believes that his own gifts only make sense when brought into dialogue with the communities he is called on to serve.”

Celebrating an artist of extraordinary faith, power, creativity, and dedication, the second edition of Sacred Passion is a tribute to William Schickel and his achievements.

GREGORY WOLFE is writer in residence and director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University. He is the founder and editor of IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, and the author of many books, including Bearing the Mystery: Twenty Years of Image.

To listen to Gregory Wolfe talk about William Schickel and his work, click here:


“This attractive, oversized art book does an excellent job of showing the long career and contributions of the noted religious artist William Schickel. . . . Visually, it gives the reader a great wealth of images of religious art work of the last sixty years, depicted in paintings, stained glass, sculptures and architecture.” — Catholic Library World

For the first edition: “William Schickel, the subject of this book, is one of the most prolific and versatile contemporary artists in the United States. This is a beautifully designed and illustrated book, worthy of the distinguished career of a humble, intuitive, and talented artist whose deep faith illuminates his work, whose art consistently expresses his roots in the best aspects of Christian humanism, and whose prolific output symbolizes his conviction expressed in the aphorism which opens the book: ‘God’s love causes the beauty of what He loves; our love is caused by the beauty of what we love.’ ” — Worship

“A book like this does not appear very often. It is simply a masterpiece: the layout, the type, the photographs, the work contained. A wonderful example of a publication effort whose expense was not spared, it succeeds brilliantly in presenting the quality of good honest art, the faithful work of a faithful life.” — Archives of Modern Christian Art Newsletter

“Notre Dame and Gregory Wolfe have done themselves proud preparing this beautiful full-color book of the work of William Schickel in the “Beauty of Catholic Life Series.” William Schickel has done himself proud through a long life of artmaking for the church and for fortunate “secular” patrons and clients. And anyone who has the slightest interest in such art, in seeing what can be conceived and effected by a single imagination through decades in a society called secular ought to obtain, study, and enjoy this work.” — Christian Century

“Frugality and splendor, splendor and humility: To me, that sums up all of Schickel’s work as I turn the pages of this beautifully designed, gracefully written and personally inspiring book.” — St. Anthony Messenger

“Seldom does one see such an exquisitely produced book as Sacred Passion. We should be grateful to the publisher for providing so many full-color illustrations in the paperback edition. This volume deserves a place in the libraries of monasteries, religious houses, seminaries, and universities as well as on the shelves of all who are interested in contemporary art, both religious and secular.” — Cistercian Studies Quarterly

“. . . Remarkable volume of marvelous photographs and illuminating text.” — Common Sense