This morning I finished reading for the second time “Pacem in Terris: A Love Story” by Frederick Franck. It is the story of a place which Franck and his wife Claske established in Warwick, NY and which they named “Pacem in Terris.”
It is quite literally a place of peace, which I first visited in the fall of 2014 and it is a treasure. It is home to many of his outdoor sculptures. His stained glass pieces are housed in a small little cottage——both his Tao of the Cross and the Parable of the Oxherd. Another small structure holds books, cards, postcards and prints, available for sale.
Franck’s art is also at the Museum of Modern Art, Fogg Art Museum, Tokyo National Museum, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. He has written over thirty books, many of which I have found to be gems.
He was born in 1909 in the Netherlands; in 1945 became a U.S. citizen; and died in June of 2006 at the age of 97.
Pacem in Terris is open from May to October, makes a wonderful day-trip, and is noticeably different from most museums. There is no entrance fee but there is opportunity to make a donation. It is all outside except for the two cottages I mentioned and for the old mill which he transformed into almost a sanctuary of peace and which holds in the summer months various kinds of music for up to a hundred people for a nominal charge.
But none of these words get to the heart of the man Frederick Franck. His book does that and it created in me this morning a determination to re-read it once a year—in order not to lose a sense of his passion for seeing, his determination to create a physical place of peace, and his lifting up the people who work for peace——Albert Schweitzer, Pope John Paul, D. T. Suzuki.
I am 82 now. I hope to visit Pacem in Terris many more times, but the book reminds me through its black and white pictures of all those sculptures which dot the landscape in Warwick. I had heard about Pacem in Terris for a decade and if I had gone then I might have been lucky enough to meet Frederick Franck. Fortunately I still meet him through his books and his art.
There are treasures near the places where we live. Pacem in Terris is one of them.