It was still sunny last Tuesday evening, when faculty, students, parents and friends of Gonzaga Preparatory School gathered at the center of campus for the blessing of a new bronze statue, The Three Companions.
Created by Spokane artist Vincent De Felice, a 1986 graduate of Gonzaga Prep, the 13-foot-tall statue shows St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Faber, the founders of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.
“It’s the focal point of our campus, we are a Jesuit school and St. Ignatius is recognized as the founder of the society,” said Jennifer Doolittle, development director at Gonzaga Prep. “Vincent De Felice offered to do a statue for us and we suggested this idea to him.”
De Felice is the senior artistic director at North by Northwest Productions, and he has created other well-known bronze sculptures in Spokane: the one of Joe Albi, sitting at the Joe Albi Stadium and also the Gonzaga University bulldog.
“This is the finest piece of sculpture I have seen on a Jesuit campus anywhere, and I’ve seen a few,” said Al Falkner, president of Gonzaga Prep, at the blessing. “There’s nothing we can create through technology that can measure up with this.”
The blessing included a short biography of each of the companions depicted, who met when they studied in Paris in the early 1500s. Of the three, Blessed Peter Faber was the first to be ordained and he’s known as the master of the spiritual exercises. St. Francis Xavier left for India and later China as a missionary – he died a missionary – and St. Ignatius Loyola stayed in Rome to study and write the Jesuits’ constitution.
“Vince, through this beautiful piece of art, has captured missionary zeal, the commitment to academic excellence and the prayerful reflection of the Jesuits that inspire not only our students today, but also thousands of alumni here and around the world,” Falkner said.
The chapel at Gonzaga Prep is already named The Three Companions, and the school’s Latin motto Ite Inflammate Omnia (go, set the world alight) is said to be what St. Ignatius said to St. Francis when he urged him to leave on a missionary trip to Asia.