Church History through the Ages; Art Exhibit Shows the Shaping of Catholicism

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The story of Christianity and Catholicism is being told in a new artwork exhibit in Arlington -- one image per century.

It's 21 paintings in a Millennium collection, with one portraying the life of Jesus and one each for every 100 years since.

Each painting shows the main events and personalities, good and bad, of each century that helped shape the church.

Reproductions of the paintings, by Kentucky-based painter Gloria Thomas, decorate a new $1.5 million social hall and gymnasium at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Fort Caroline Road.

Before the art was permanently mounted, church member Nancy Murray took the collection around, propping up the works on an easel and talking about the century of history depicted in each beautifully detailed, sepia-toned image.

Even now that they're permanently mounted, framed and labeled in entrance corridors and a meeting room at the church's new center, she still occasionally presents a spirited narrative of each work to interested visitors.

"It's a wonderful way to evangelize," Murray said. "Going back to the stained-glass windows, it's long been recognized that images are tremendously useful in telling the story of Christ and the church. …