Thesis Title

A Thesis Examining Historic Images of Christ as They Reflect Existential Themes of Love, Loss and Hope and Their Implcations Within the Terapeutic Process

Graduation Date

Spring 2003

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


Spirituality and or religious beliefs are becoming an area of focus for many therapists. Therapists are coming to understand that for clients who have a strong religious belief there is benefit in incorporating these beliefs into the therapeutic process. This is a historical thesis that focuses on three images of Jesus Christ. The three images discussed are Jesus as “The Good Shepherd,” the image of Christ crucified, and three Pieta sculptures created by Michelangelo. The images are considered within the social and cultural context in which they were created, in order to gain an understanding of their spiritual relevance for Christians today. All three images reflect themes of love, loss, and hope, and these three existential issues are explored in relation to the images. Because of the importance that images of Christ have had on Western culture the knowledge gained by looking at their meanings are relevant to art therapists today in assisting their Christian clients in exploring these existential issues. For non-Christians the study is relevant because of the impact that the images have had on society and culture. The data researched for this thesis includes sources from art history, history, Christian theology, existential psychology, and art therapy.