A time to bless

Suzie Harrison

Through the years Laguna Beach artist Anne England has been blessed.

After surviving cancer she instigated a number of art programs in the

community including the “Blessing of the Artists.”


The event takes place every year at the start of the summer art


“I had a little tiny window when I wasn’t so sick and that’s when I

created ‘The Healing,’ it symbolizes infinity,” England said.


The idea was born five years ago at St. Catherine of Siena Church.

England was talking to Msgr. John Urell about the fact that they have

a lot of artists in their congregation.

And, England recalled, Urell said, “You know, I ought to give them a

send off for the art season.”

“I think we should have a blessing, but for all the artists in town,”

England replied.

In June 1998 the blessing of the artists came to fruition and will


mark its fifth year tonight with each year contributing something


“It just continued from there,” England said. “The artists just love

it and the priests are all for it so it happens every year.”

The first year there were 75 artists and by now that number has


“I think it’s great that Anne put this together,” said local artist

Chris Hoy. “If anyone feels blessed it’s me after my hand injury and


everything and still being able to paint. So I feel very blessed.”

England describes the first blessing as magical. They didn’t know what

to expect the first year and were amazed. Each year it’s a coming

together of artists from all faiths, including Buddhism and Hindu, and

two atheists have been coming every year.

“I’ve gone very year to the blessing of the artists,” said artists

Fitz Maurice. “One year the Pope wrote a letter to the artists that

spiritually uplifted me because of the depth of compassion he expressed.

He said that God loves his artists in a special way because through the

ages they have given to the world clarity, beauty and inspiration.

“God is my best friend and is always the one there with me even when

no one else is.”

Urell performed the first three blessings and was beloved for his

charismatic nature.

A lot of the artists bring their brushes, sculpting tools and have

their tools blessed.

“Wait until you hear Candice Johnson singing Amazing Grace and other

songs,” England said. “She’ll blow your socks off.”

Father Eamon O’Gorman performed the blessing last year and Father Rod

Stephens will be doing the ceremony tonight.

“It’s really neat because it makes us stop for a little bit and focus

and take time for myself with the artists around me having a specific

thing they’ll be focusing on,” said artist Amy Conaway. “It’s really neat

and important to the spiritual sense of self to give thanks every day for

our talents and gifts that we have. It’s pretty amazing to do what we


The blessing will start at 7 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Roman

Catholic Church, 990 Temple Terrace. There will be a post-blessing party

on the church grounds.