From the “Couldn’t We Do Better Than This?” department comes pictures of new mosaics added to the front facade of the crypt entrance of the Basilica at Lourdes in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the famous apparitions. From a distance, they don’t look so bad. Get closer and you see the problem. First, their scale overwhelms the delicate detail of the building. Second, we find the “third grade” school of art on display. The goal, I imagine, was to make images which hearkened back to the iconic traditions of the East, to perhaps provide enough abstraction so as to find the “universal” quality of the figures represented, and to recall the primitive quality of the early Church. The result however, simply looks forced and inadequate, with just a hint of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” thrown in for good measure. The January- February issue of Lourdes Magazine has a short piece on the theology of the mosaics, which seems quite good. It is simply hard to believe that there wasn’t someone more talented out there for this important shrine.