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An illustration from Tomie dePaola’s The Legend of the Poinsettia An illustration from Tomie dePaola’s The Legend of the Poinsettia

Sean Fitzpatrick (’02)Sean Fitzpatrick (’02)Late in Lent, Tomie dePaola, a longtime children’s author beloved by many Catholic families, died following a fall at his studio in New Hampshire. The news of his passing was largely lost amidst COVID-19 reporting, but alumnus author Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has now penned an appropriately prayerful Easter tribute to Mr. dePaola in Crisis.

“It is at this time of resurrection that Catholics may …  remember those who have passed away in the hope of rising again, and especially those whose memory might be seasoned with the brightness they brought to life by their lives — how they participated in Christ’s work to make all things new,” writes Mr. Fitzpatrick. “Tomie dePaola may not have been religious, but he was certainly reverent. Though he lost the Faith, he never lost his love for the goodness, beauty, and perhaps truth of what he had once believed.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick continues:

DePaola saw the splendor of the Catholic Faith with its enduring power, its charm, its sacred mystery, and the mystical way it lent itself to lore and legend. As a writer and illustrator of children’s books, he famously presented the Faith, the heroes of the Faith, and the traditions of the Church with a vitality that is all but unmatched in the modern children’s library. ...

[His] hard lines, soft brushstrokes, and bright palette, coupled with his straightforward writing style, made the invisible aspects of sainthood and sanctity visible, tangible, and attractive, giving the heroes of the Church, and even the stories of Christ, a dimension that goes beyond stuffy histories or plain catechisms. 

“This Easter, Catholics should remember this storyteller and painter who thought it his vocation to bring children to God by bringing old things to new life,” Mr. Fitzpatrick concludes. “May his soul, like the soul of his Clown of God, rest in the hands of the Christ Child, and there find the glorious vibrancy he searched for and praised in his painting.”