On January 19, 2021, Fr. Sebin Mundackal, CMF, member of the CESC, graduated in Church History from the Pontificia Universidad “Comillas” in Madrid, with a grade of 10.00 in “Written Dissertation for Bachelor’s Degree”. The subject of his work was: “Estampas in the Catecismo explicado of Claret: A preliminary Study” (145 pp.).
After an Introduction (pp. 5-10) about the reason for the chosen topic, the objectives that he set himself and the method he used, the author divides the study into three chapters: I) The artistic-historical basis of Claret, the training he received in this regard at “La Lonja” in Barcelona, and the cultural-religious environment of his time (Outlook of the artistic background in the life of Claret, pp. 11-42). II) Claret’s interest in catechesis in general and illustrating catechisms (Catechetical interest in Claret and the illustrated Catechism, pp. 43-79). III) Iconographic analysis of the “estampas” drawn by Claret, the techniques used, etc. (Iconographic Analysis of the “Estampas” of Claret, pp. 79-118). On pages 119-123 he draws the conclusions of his research. An interesting appendix follows (pp. 124-138) with 21 reproductions of printed illustrations drawn by the Saint. In this part, the graduate concentrates in particular on five illustrative drawings of the book: “Catecismo explicado”. And it ends with an extensive bibliography (pp. 139-145) of Claret’s own works, about him as well as on iconographic, catechetical, historical topics, etc.
In the defence of his dissertation before the Court, Sebin highlighted not only the originality of his study with regard to the figure of Claret and the role of the artistic dimension throughout his life, but also the fact of the importance given in our culture to the use of images, and specifically in regard to catechesis. In this sense, Claret can be considered as a pioneer in realizing the power and usefulness of images in publications on catechesis.
In the conclusions, Sebin considers the illustrative drawings of the book: “Catecismo explicado” as Claret’s most significant contribution and the clearest expression of his artistic abilities. With this, the Saint tried to make something difficult to explain or understand more attractive. He certainly was not an extraordinary artist. Actually, what interested him most was not the perfection of his drawings but the goals he pursued with them, that is, to transmit ideas and teach catechism, especially to children. In his work, Claret first presents a drawing and then goes on to explain the content that he wants to instil. In fact, this catechetical method proved to be a wonderful pastoral means in his days. After 170 years his illustrations are surely not usable in the current catechetical method; but what prevails is the spirit and effectiveness that they had then in the process of learning the catechism by the children.
Our warmest congratulations to Fr. Sebin for his work. And we hope that he will soon be able to offer us an article about his contribution to the knowledge of this unpublished aspect of Claret.