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Our Lady of the Archives

By Kayla Harris, Librarian/Archivist

The Marian Library recently acquired a commemorative print showing the first depiction, and to my knowledge, only depiction, of Our Lady of the Archives at the Archival Center at San Fernando Mission, part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The mural is comprised of sixty-six ceramic Terra Floor bisque tiles and hangs on the outside wall of the center.

Designed by Isabel Piczek, the image was drawn in charcoal and then taken to Franciscan Ceramics, a California-based operation that has since been discontinued by its parent company, Wedgewood. Our Lady of the Archives will have a unique place in history as the final creation by Franciscan Ceramics, which had been a tradition in the area since 1875.

The drawing was laid atop tracing paper and transferred onto the sixty-six tiles. The red color around the outline was added in and the tiles were fired for an hour in a high temperature kiln. After a lengthy cooling period, the tiles were sent to San Fernando where award-winning tilemaster Ralph McIntosh led the installation. It was a delicate installation where any error would have required an entirely new fabrication. Once the tiles were successfully in place, the grouting was added to make the entire mural waterproof.

It is tradition to link the Blessed Virgin Mary with particular places or groups. As a modern piece of art on a building that preserves the past, the depiction of Our Lady of the Archives represents her relevance across time. You can learn more about the Archival Center at San Fernando Mission by visiting their website. Learn more about the archival collections in the Marian Library by viewing a full list of finding aids

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