DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY     December 8-9, 1999     vol. 10, no. 233-234
Special Issue for the Solemnity of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Designer Inspired by Virgin's Image in Paris' Rue du Bac

        ROME, DEC 7 (ZENIT) - December 8 is a very special day for Europe: in 1955, on that day, the European Ministers' delegates officially adopted the European flag designed by Arsene Heitz, who today is an octogenarian artist in Strasbourg.

        The decision was taken following the 1950 European Council's (one of the predecessors of today's European Union) convocation of a competition to design the flag of the newborn European Community. Among many other artists, Heitz presented several designs, and one was chosen: 12 stars on a blue background.

        Recently Heitz revealed to a French magazine the reason for his inspiration. At that time he was reading the history of the Blessed Virgin's apparitions in Paris' Rue du Bac, known today as the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal. According to the artist, he thought of the 12 stars in a circle on a blue background, exactly the way it is represented in traditional iconography of this image of the Immaculate Conception. In the beginning, Heitz saw it as a flight of fancy, among the many that run through an artist's imagination; but the idea caught his attention, to the point that it became the subject of his meditation.

        According to Javier Paredes, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Alcala in Spain, in statements sent to ZENIT, "Heitz listens to God in his interior; in other words, he prays with his heart and his head. He says he is profoundly religious and devoted to the Virgin, to whom he never misses praying a daily Rosary, together with his wife. Because of this, he believes the inspiration not only from his artistic talents, but from the silent voices that Heaven always speaks to men of good will, among whom Heitz can undoubtedly be numbered. He is an artist who, virtually at the end of his life and at the zenith of his career, can proclaim with the guarantee of authenticity that he recalls that moment, that he is interested in very few but very important things, that he regards himself as a man who loves the whole world, but especially the Blessed Virgin, who is our Mother."

        Professor Paredes admits that "neither the stars nor the blue of the flag are particularly religious symbols, thus respecting the conscience of all Europeans, regardless of their beliefs."

        Indeed, he recalls that "when Paul M.G. Levy, first director of the Press and Information Service of the European Council had to explain to the Members of the Economic Community the meaning of the design, he interpreted the number of 12 stars as a 'figure of plentitude,' given that in the 50s there were not 12 members in that Council, nor in the European Community."

        "However, in Heitz's soul the words of the Apocalypse were very present: 'A great sign appeared in the Heavens: a Woman clothed with the sun and with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.' And, perhaps without realizing it, the delegates of the European Ministers officially adopted the design proposed by Heitz on the feast of Our Lady: December 8, 1955," explained Prof. Paredes. "That's a lot of coincidences, so henceforth it should not be difficult for us to discover in the folds of the Europeans' flag the smile and affection of Our Mother, the Queen of Europe, ready to lend a hand in that great challenge that St. Peter's successor has proposed to us: to re-Christianize the Old Continent with the example of our lives and the testimony of our words." ZE99120707

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 8-9, 1999       volume 10, no. 233-234


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