Holy Child Schools | Society of the Holy Child Jesus

Drawing and Calligraphy

Book of the Order of Studies in the Schools of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (1863)
Art Classes can make connections with Cornelia Connelly and her philosophy of education in Holy Child School.

Students can be reminded of the importance of the arts in Holy Child Schools by looking at certain sections of the Book of Studies as they begin to work on projects. The opening paragraph (included below) illustrates Cornelia’s view of art (drawing).

1. Drawing as a Christian Art – In our schools we are not to consider Drawing as an extra or superlative. Art left to the choice of any one to follow, or leave out, but on the contrary, as a Christian Art and one of the most important branches of education, second only to the art of speaking and writing, and in some respects even beyond the languages, as it is in itself a universal Language, addressing itself to the ignorant as well as the most refined. It is to be noted that drawing educated the eye in all perceptible beauty and order, and that it leads to the cultivation of a habit of observation, the only habit by which knowledge generally can be obtained. Nor is it to be considered as an accomplishment, but as an Art, which has its philosophy as well as its poetry. (Book of Studies, page 53)

DRAWING (pages 53-67) –This section of the Book of Studies discusses all aspects of art in the curriculum.
A few lesson ideas….

PERSPECTIVE (Book of Studies pages 55-56) Before beginning a unit on perspective, read what the Book of Studies says about it. Look at a few examples of perspective drawings from
Miss Annie Barry-Second Course of Drawing -Persepctive - St Leonards by Sea, 1861at Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, 1861

ILLUMINATING IN THE OLD MISSAL STYLE (Book of Studies, pages 57-8) Read this section before students begin a calligraphy assignment and/or illumination project. Look at some examples from Mayfield Jubilee Book 1896

and early art work created for Cornelia by Holy Child students at Layton Hill:



Images of the Holy Child Jesus


The Holy Child was very important to Cornelia Connelly. One of Cornelia's biographers, Elizabeth Strub, explains that for Cornelia the understanding that God became human was essential to her spirituality. In addition, Strub says, "Because she was dedicated to Christ in his human reality, Cornelia was a down-to-earth realist . . . Sanctity was to be found within the everyday duties of one's state in life; ordinary events mediated God's will, and the natural order glorified him." The unfortunate events of Cornelia's life (losing her husband and her children) evidently linked that spirituality with suffering. "Small wonder that Cornelia depicted the Child who was the manifestation of God's merciful love, and its source, as a suffering child." (Strub, Informatio, 167) The symbol of the society (emblazoned on seals, medals, and other insignia) is of Jesus as a child, arms outstretched, often with a cross behind him.


Choose from the gallery of images of the Holy Child (Photos: People, Places and Artifacts>Artifacts>Holy Child Images) and discuss with your students what impression each one is trying to give.

Possible questions for discussion:

  1. What does the image make you feel? Sad? Happy? Angry? Confused?
  2. Look at the lines. Are they smooth and soft? Or are they dark, hard lines.
  3. Look at the colors. How do the colors affect the mood of the art?
  4. What symbols are included?
  5. Notice the composition and the perspective of the image. Is it cluttered? Symmetrical? 
  6. From what angle is it viewed?
  7. Notice the lighting and the shading.
  8. What message is the artist trying to communicate?

When the students have completed their analysis of the various images, have them brainstorm their own ideas about the "Holy Child". What words come to mind when they think about the child Jesus?

Using their lists, have the students create their own images of the Holy Child. 

Cornelia - Quotes, Letters and Legacy
Cornelia's Life
Introduction to the Society and SHCJ Schools
Religious Studies/Theology
Service Learning
World Languages
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