November 8, 2010
The Light of Life painting by Yukon artist Libby Dulac

The Light of Life painting by Yukon artist Libby Dulac

LAUREEN MCMAHON
THE B.C. CATHOLIC

VANCOUVER - A religious vision which inspired a painting of the Madonna and Child is now available as a Christmas card celebrating the sanctity of life.

The story begins during the 2007-08 Christmas holidays when Miriam Ragetli, who was at the time living in the Yukon, decided to take advantage of a rare quiet moment.

Nothing, she thought, could be better than relaxing in a steamy bath fragrant with scented oil, so she headed for the family bathroom. As the tub filled, she silently thanked God for his many blessings, especially for the miracle of hot water, because the temperature outside was -40C.

"I thought of his wonderful generosity and sighed from contentment for all his blessings," she told The B.C. Catholic.

Suddenly she noticed the large bathroom mirror streaked with mist had a clear image in the middle.

"It was obscure at first," said Ragetli. "Then the figure of a child emerged, a tiny infant really, cradled in the arms of a woman. Light shot out from the veil on her head in the form of a crown, and a mantle billowed around her.

"Everything was silent. No laws of gravity, space, or time prevailed; only a feeling of the unspeakable power of love, and adoration."

Ragetli silently gave the name Queen of the Cosmos to the woman who held the infant child so close that the two figures seemed fused together.

Captivated, Ragetli reached for a pencil and some paper to sketch the figures, expecting them to disappear at any moment. Neither faded, and she was able to complete the drawing, which she hoped captured their silent power and beauty.

As her children came into the bathroom, curious about what Mom was doing, Ragetli became aware that the light was fast fading.

"I felt the darkness of a Yukon winter's night steal upon us. When I looked down at the sketch, I realized I had used a large manila envelope addressed to Priests for Life."

Earlier that year, Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse had given her family a print by Yukon artist Libby Dulac called Spirit of Klaune.

PRESENCE OF GOD

"I had been stunned by this magnificent picture, which showed the overriding power of the presence of God and his cosmos, and the thought came to me that my vision could lend itself to similar artistic interpretation," said Ragetli. "Without realizing it, Bishop Gary had provided me with the perfect artist."

She called Dulac, a British-born artist who had moved from the U.K. to the Yukon with her family in 1973, where she has a studio in Haines Junction on the Alaska Highway near Kluane National Park.

"I knew that Libby's remarkable body of work, the majestic scenes she paints of the Kluane region, are prized by private and corporate buyers. I soon learned that she is a woman of great faith whose art is always created in a spirit of prayer.

"I told her about my vision, and when I realized that she and her husband Claude were about to make a trip to Medjugorje, it confirmed to me that she was the right person to do the painting," said Ragetli.

At their first meeting the two women discussed the experience and prayed over Ragetli's sketch, asking God to help them bring it alive for his purpose.

HUGE CHALLENGE

"It was a huge challenge," Dulac said in a phone interview from her Yukon home.

"I believed that Miriam truly beheld the Mother of God and the Infant Christ. I felt that I was being asked to help bring this vision to everyone with the message that all life is precious, that every child conceived is a gift to be treasured," said Dulac, a grandmother of seven.

"While Libby was on the pilgrimage, she prayed over the sketch many times," said Ragetli. "When she returned, she worked so hard on the painting over the winter."

Dulac finished the approximately 600 by 900 mm. oil-on-canvas, which she called Light of Life, about a year ago, and had it blessed by Bishop Gordon.

The bishop admired the painting so much he even asked Dulac to provide him with printed cards so he could send them as Christmas cards last year.

"People loved them," the bishop said in a phone conversation.

Ragetli said that, while Dulac retains the copyright to her work, Light of Life is now available to anyone for promoting the sanctity of life. Individuals or organizations wishing to use the image for pro-life work are welcome to contact her at eeia@hotmail.com.