The Healing Power of Art: Painting Generously Gifted to Charlton Chapel Provides Solace to Others

New artwork is gracing the walls of St. Joe’s Charlton Chapel thanks to a generous gift from the family of the late Dr. William (Bill) Bensen – a longtime patron of the arts and a well-respected Rheumatologist at the Hospital. In Dr. Bensen’s lifetime, St. Joe’s was the place where he proudly worked, providing impeccable care to the patients he served for nearly 40 years.

And so it seemed fitting that St. Joe’s was also the place where Dr. Bensen spent his final days, receiving (rather than giving) exceptional care – both clinical and spiritual.

In recognition and celebration of Dr. Bensen’s longstanding relationship with St. Joe’s, his wife Mrs. Wynn Bensen and his family donated a beautiful painting to the Hospital, requesting it reside within the chapel of the Charlton Campus.

The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables was painted by prominent Quebecois artist Antoine Plamondon, and provides peace and solace to all those who view it. In the painting, a radiant Virgin Mary is depicted with her gaze directed upwards towards heaven. She is surrounded by celestial light and child-like angels that evoke the miraculous birth of her son, Jesus Christ. It is a replica of the original work by Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, which dates back to 1678 and is now in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables now graces the walls of St. Joe’s Charlton Campus.

At a small unveiling ceremony hosted in the chapel, The Most Reverend Bishop Douglas Crosby, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, formally blessed the awe-inspiring artwork in front of a gathering including Dr. Bensen’s widow, their children and grand-children, close friends, former colleagues and members of St. Joe’s staff and leadership team. Appropriately, this date also marked the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – an important occasion for the Catholic community that celebrates and honours the Virgin Mary. The blessing, however, was also an opportunity to pay tribute to
the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Bensen, a much-admired physician who dedicated his life to fulfilling the St. Joe’s mission to deliver compassionate patient care, which he did with joy.

In addition to being a highly regarded clinician and researcher in the field of rheumatology, Dr. Bensen believed in the healing power of art, and was an esteemed collector of Canadian works and antiques. Sadly, Dr. Bensen passed away of cancer in 2017. He was 67.

“Our family is thrilled the Hospital has graciously accepted this donation of a painting for its chapel,” said Wynn Bensen. “It’s dedicated to the memory of a beloved husband, father, and grandfather affectionately known as ‘Popsie.’ It’s also a beautiful addition to the serene and consecrated space that this chapel is, and that we need it to be.”

“We trust that many here at the Hospital, whether patients, families or staff, will find spiritual healing, inspiration and hope as they look upon this painting – especially during times of illness, stress and anxiety,” said Elizabeth Buller, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Health System.