Br. Donald Houde, CSV, was the unofficial curator of the religious art collection at the Viatorian Province Center. As a member of the first group of brothers to profess vows in the building, back in 1952, and a former art student himself, he retained all the knowledge of how various works of art were acquired through the years.
Br. Houde’s wealth of history came in handy, when, beginning in 2012, he took on the responsibility of designing the annual Christmas card. Each summer, he began scouring the collection — including paintings, sculpture and ceramics — in search of one image that would capture the holiness of the season.
This year’s card, his 10th, was his last. Br. Houde passed away Sept. 29, just weeks after contributing his thoughts for the design to this year’s image.
“Bring out the color in Mary’s dress,” he said, adding: “Use a font that’s easy to read.”
Somewhat ironically, the image came from Br. Houde’s own collection. It was a reproduction of the famous Madonna col Bambino created in the early 1300s by medieval artist, Simone Martini. Only months earlier, Br. Houde had begun cleaning out some of his things, and this was one piece of art he shared with the rest of his community. Originially encased in glass, it sat quietly in the reading room of the residence wing, until it was discovered for the card.
Below is a sampling of the Christmas cards that Br. Houde personally designed. His artistic eye — and sense of reverence — shines forth brightly.