A funeral Mass will be celebrated Nov. 26 at San Fernando Mission, Mission Hills, for noted liturgical artist Edith Piczek who died Nov. 11 after a long illness.
Msgr. Francis Weber, a longtime friend, will celebrate the 10:30 a.m. funeral Mass in the Mission Chapel, preceded by a 10 a.m. rosary. With her sister Isabel, Edith Piczek created major works in stained glass, murals and mosaics for nearly 500 churches, schools, retreat houses, cemeteries and more in Southern California and beyond, including Rome.
In speaking of her art, Edith referred often to her sole lifetime vocation of “visualizing God’s Word and His creation. It takes constant studying of Scripture and theology to find the images, shapes and forms to translate God’s beauty. The artist is creating visual representation … to see the sacred in each of us, to show the love of God through art for the Church.”
Edith Piczek (like her sister) was born in Hungary where their father was a noted artist and art professor, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. After World War II, however, the sisters fled to Rome during the Communist regime to pursue their work in sacred art. There, they won a 1949 competition to paint a mural at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute — to the chagrin of the priests who, upon learning that the sisters were teenagers, hesitated to let them finish the project.
Several years and 42 murals later, the Piczeks had removed all doubt about their qualifications. By 1955 they were in Canada and shortly after arrived in Los Angeles to pursue their combined talents. In Las Vegas, Edith designed the 2,000 square-foot mosaic on the façade of the cathedral that illustrated the roles of the Guardian Angel.
Both artists continued executing major works for churches in (and outside of) the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, based in their Echo Park studio known as Construction Art Center. Edith, while she confessed that her work was at times “lonely,” considered the studio as a “monastery.”
“We came to the United States not to have a better life or more things,” Edith told The Tidings in 2000. “We came to bring God closer to people, and people closer to God, through the work we do. We are not rich, but we have more happiness, more fulfillment, more satisfaction through the kind of work we do — serving God, and through God serving his people.”
Her work can be found in many local churches — St. Catherine Laboure, Torrance; St. Bridget of Sweden, Van Nuys; Sacred Heart, Ventura; Our Mother of Good Counsel, L.A.; and Our Lady of the Assumption, Claremont, to name a few. In 1979 their combined work was featured in a major exhibit, “Monumental Arts Revisited,” at the California Museum of Science and Industry.
Cardinal Timothy Manning, a close friend of the artists, attended the opening. The Piczek sisters received numerous honors for their combined contributions. In 1990 they received the first Gloria Dei Art Award at the liturgical art show at St. John’s Seminary for their “remarkable work over the years.” Two years later, they received the Laudatus Award for excellence in the promotion of the liturgical life of the parishes and the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. And in 2000, Edith and Isabel Piczek were honored with the annual Cardinal’s Award for their service to the church and community of Los Angeles. Edith is survived by her sister, Isabel.