Effingham, Ill., surgeon Ruben Boyajian has built a side reputation as the creator of precisely sliced and to-scale gingerbread houses. These annual gifts to the community have included painstaking representations of local landmarks and even the White House.
Now the good doctor has laid aside his gingerbread in favor of mosaic glass pieces and a project that will take him three years.
Dr. Boyajian is working on a mosaic depiction of the “Canticle of Brother Sun.” Named for a song in praise of God and his elemental creation, written by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224, the mosaic will be composed of three panels, each 9 feet high and 8 feet wide. The grand work is designed to grace an arched wall fronting windows by the healing garden at St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital in Effingham, where Boyajian is director of the Women's Wellness Center.
Boyajian is now busy working on the mosaic in his home basement workshop. The first panel features a Mediterranean sun flashing beams out of a sky rendered in multiple hues of blue. The light illuminates the Basilica of St. Francis, a Gothic masterpiece that is full of stained glass windows.
“That part is going to be challenging and I love it,” he told the Associated Press. “I can't wait.”
Drawings for the second panel show St. Francis communing with animals and accompanied by St. Clare.
In the final image, the canticle folds in more recent local history. Flames burst out of the third panel, lapping at the original St. Anthony's Hospital, which suffered a devastating fire in 1949 that claimed 74 lives. It's considered one of the worst hospital fires in U.S. history.
“The idea of giving is what motivates me,” Boyajian said. “I suppose I am kind of an idealist.”
Boyajian expects to have the first panel ready for installation by April, God willing.
“And we just can't wait to see it,” says Terriann Tharp, division director of marketing and communications for St. Anthony's. “Knowing Dr. Boyajian's talent, we know it's going to be marvelous.”