Sanctus Mural [Painting]

I have been working on a very large project for the past several months that I was excited to debut at Austin DCYC 2016. This large mural is the first and central part of three panels designed for a Holy Mass in a conference center.

The original is an oil on canvas painting that is 48×48 inches but it was designed to be enlarged to four times that size. By working in this method, it helped expedite the timeline and keep cost down for the Diocese of Austin that paid for the large print. It was an incredible honor to work on this project.


Uniting Styles and TraditionsDCYCImage_MEDIUM

The original inspiration for the style comes from the Beuronese style of sacred art. It is having a revival in many projects around the world, and I am a big fan of the style. I changed my own style by flattening the depth of the colors, but I kept my typical vivid colors throughout the piece. Many of the different elements and symbols span through many Christian traditions throughout the history of the Church.

The one element I find almost impossible to remove from my paintings is my cultural influence.

Eschatological Theme

The mural is designed to draw you into the mysteries of the liturgy and aid the faithful’s mind to focus on prayer. At the Holy Mass, we Catholics believe that we experience the veil of heaven open on earth. At the celebration of the Eucharist, we are surrounded by heaven and the communion of saints even though this reality invisible to us.

The celebration of the Holy Mass is oriented towards the return of the Lord while also entering into the mystery of the Eucharist that takes us to Calvary on Good Friday. Many Catholics find mass boring if they don’t understand what is occurring. The visuals of the art help remind and direct the minds of those at Mass to the invisible actions happening in front of them.

The Process

Planning and layout out the elements took several weeks of prayer and preparation. My friend Michael Raia is the one that had the vision big enough to do something at this scale, and his formation as a liturgical architect was instrumental in making many of the big decisions.

Scan of the larger sketch
Scan of the larger sketch

It was also important to find an adequate canvas that would transfer at a good scale to the larger print. Considering that the side panels were part of the final goal, I wanted to paint them all on one to help me see how they go together, but there was none available at the ratio I wanted. I also had to save all my time for the actual painting instead of stretching my own canvas.I settled on a 48×48 inch canvas and 2 12x48inch canvases for the sides.

It took almost every moment I could afford to give to the painting for two and half months to get it finished. In complete honesty, it still had a few elements I wanted to touch up and add if I had more time. Although, that’s a common feeling for me, but this deadline made it more concrete than usual.

Explanation of the Symbolism

Symbolism of Main Elements
  • Rainbow: God’s providence and the presence of God’s throne (RV 4:2-3)
  • Stars: God’s favor and guidance and Heaven
  • Sanctus: “Holy” in Latin (RV 4:8-11)
  • 4 Rivers of Paradise: 4 Gospels
  • White Kingdom: The heavenly Jerusalem depicted with elements of the city of Austin
  • Crowns: Glorious martyrdom
  • Dawn: The promise of victory through the blood of Christ
  • Palm Trees: Victory and entrance into the Kingdom (JN 12:12-13)
  • Scallop hell: Baptism and pilgrimage
  • Vines: God’s providence and care
  • Jewels: The walls of Heaven decorated with gold and jewels (RV 21:19)

The Main Figures

  1. The Father
  2. The Holy Spirit
  3. Jesus
  4. Seraphim Angels
  5. Gospel of St. Luke
  6. Gospel of St. John
  7. Gospel of St. John
  8. Gospel of St. Mark
  9. Seraphim Angels
  10. St. Joseph
  11. The Blessed Virgin Mary
  12. Angel
  13. Angel
  14. St. John the Evangelist
  15. St John the Baptist

Apostle Martyrs

  1.  St. Bartholomew
  2.  St. Jude
  3. St. Thomas
  4. St. Matthew
  5. St. James the Greater
  6. St. Peter
  7. St. Paul
  8. St. Andrew
  9. St. Matthias
  10. St. Philip
  11. St. James Alphaeus
  12. St. Simon

Old Testament Saints

  1. The Prophet Isaiah
  2. The Prophet Jeremiah
  3. Queen Esther
  4. The Prophet Daniel
  5. Moses
  6. Ruth
  7. King David
  8. The Prophet Elijah
  9. St. Joachim, Father of Mary
  10. St. Anne, Mother of Mary


  1. St Mary Magdalene
  2. St. John Paul II
  3. St. Faustina
  4. Bl. Mother Theresa
  5. St. Kateri Tekakwitha
  6. St .Thérèse of Lisieux
  7. St. Augustine of Hippo
  8. St. Francis of Assisi
  9. St. Juan Diego
  10. St. Patrick
  11. St Thomas Aquinas



I have received many questions about the inscription above the cross. The order is backwards from the commonly seen INRI which stands for the Latin “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum.” An old tradition of mixing the cultures it to use the Latin abbreviations and then write them backward like the Hebrew language is written. (John 19:19-20)

The Two Unique Stars

The stars throughout the top part of the painting reflect God’s providence, care, and guidance to all people. This is a common symbol in many churches and sacred spaces. The stars have long been a sign of navigation and direction from the Lord. I added two unique stars to the left and right of Christ on the cross to symbolize the east and the west to recall how “as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)


Printable Explanation

Download the MuralKey (PDF)


800 800 Cristóbal Almanza

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