The Cushwa Center presents "Outsider at the Vatican: Frederick Franck's Drawings from the Second Vatican Council"

Author: Heather Gary


An exhibit of rarely seen drawings from the Second Vatican Council will be on display in South Bend this August and September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II.  

The Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and the Notre Dame Center for Arts & Culture present Outsider at the Vatican: Frederick Franck’s Drawings from the Second Vatican Council, an exhibit of works by the Dutch-American artist Frederick Franck.

Franck (1909-2006) was born in Holland and became a U.S. citizen in 1945. A devotee of Pope John XXIII and a lifelong student of Zen Buddhism, Franck was fascinated with human spirituality. He was so deeply moved by news of the Second Vatican Council that he returned to Europe and attended all four Council sessions, sketchbook and pen in hand. Franck produced around 300 drawings, primarily in pen and ink, supplemented by watercolor. His subjects, sketched from life, include most of the major Council dignitaries (John XXIII, Paul VI, cardinals, bishops from around the world, theologians, and ecumenical observers) as well as representative scenes of life at the Council. John J. Wright, bishop of Pittsburgh from 1959-69, said that “No one has caught the human diversities and divine dimensions of the Vatican Council as has Frederick Franck.”

“This exhibit represents a unique opportunity to see works not publically shown for decades,” said Catherine R. Osborne, Cushwa Center postdoctoral fellow and exhibition curator. “Franck’s drawings are exquisitely detailed; they're much more intimate than photography, and an invaluable record of the emotional experience of the Council."


Franck’s work, including many of the 68 drawings that are part of the current exhibit, was last displayed at the University of Notre Dame in 1963. The works are on loan from Pacem In Terris: The Frederick Franck Museum and by The Catholic Documentation Center, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Cosponsors of this exhibit include Hesburgh Libraries, the Institute for Church Life, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, the Notre Dame Forum, and the Office of the President.

Outsider at the Vatican runs August 2 through September 30, 2015, at the Crossroads Gallery for Contemporary Art, which is located in the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture, 1045 West Washington Street, South Bend. Hours are Sunday 12:00-4:00 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the Cushwa Center at 574-631-5441.

Image credits:
Top: Frederick Franck, "Opening Session of Vatican II, Third Session" (September 1964). Courtesy Catholic Documentation Center, Radboud University Nijmegen
Bottom: Frederick Franck, "The Famous French Theologian Yves Congar, Gregorianum" (n.d.) Courtesy Pacem in Terris: The Frederick Franck Museum.

Learn More:

Crossroads Gallery

Pacem In Terris: The Frederick Franck Museum

The Catholic Documentation Center, Radboud University