Cardinal Špidlík's Sarcophagus is inlayed with mosaic

Artists of the Italian workshop of sacred art Atelier dell´arte of the Aletti Center (Centro Aletti) led by the Slovenian jesuit Marko Rupnik have finished work on the mosaic for cardinal Tomáš Špidlík's grave in the basilica of Velehrad.  
Published: 6. 4. 2011 17:45

Velehrad(CZ): Pilgrims will get the first chance to see the complete sarcophagus of cardinal Špidlík (a work by Paolo Marciani and Marko Rupnik) on Friday, April 8 2011 at 6 p.m. at Velehrad during the divine service offered in commemoration of his death. Bishops and members of Centro Aletti from Rome and Olomouc will attend the service.

The fifteen-member international artistic group made their first mosaic work for the late pope John Paul II. at the Vatican Redemptoris Mater chapel ten years ago. Since then, their work has grown by hundreds of mosaics all over the world (learn more here:

The Velehrad tombstone is welted with eight miniature scenes from the Bible which cardinal Špidlík held for key in theological regard and was fond of coming back to in his work. The oblong sides of the sarcophagus bear the motifs of 1. Annunciation; 2. Crucifixion; 3. Resurrection; 4. Divine Wisdom; 5. Calling of the Apostles; 6. Joseph of Egypt and his Brothers; and the head-sides depict Christ in His Glory and the Heavenly Jerusalem.  

The mosaics are artistically unique considering the technique used and the demanding miniature design. Thus, the Velehrad basilica contains not only the remains of a world-renown personage but also a new piece of art that can be appreciated by the pilgrims.

Father Marko Ivan Rupnik was born in 1954 in Zadlog, Slovenia. In 1973, he entered the Jesuit order. After his philosophical studies, he went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome (Academia di Belle Arti di Roma). He then studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, specializing on the field of mission and wrote his licentiate work on Vasilij Kandinskij and his approach to theological meaning of modern art in light of Russian theology.

He became a priest in 1985 and in 1991, he finished his doctorate in mission at the Pontifical Gregorian University under the supervision of cardinal Tomáš Špidlík. His dissertation was entitled "Missionary theological significance of art in essays of Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov".  

Since September 1991, Rupnik lives and works in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute as the head of Centro Aletti.  He lectures at the Pontifical Gregorian University and at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. Since 1995, he is also the head of the Atelier dell´arte of Centro Aletti. In 1999, he became a consultant of the Pontifical Council for Culture. He tries to connect his activities as an artist and theologist with pastoral tasks, especially through conferences and as the instructor of numerous courses and spiritual exercises. He also organized one such exercise for the Czech and Moravian bishops on March 1-3 this year.

Related pages