Catholic Artist Spotlight -- Nellie Edwards


Editor’s note: Recently, I had the privilege of seeing some artwork by Nellie Edwards and was very moved by her work. I asked her to share a bit of it with our readers, and am so thrilled that she’s consented to display a bit of it here, along with her thoughts. Please visit Nellie at to see more of her artwork. LMH

Miracle People – Painted Faith
By Nellie Edwards

As I stood before the group of street-wise 14 & 15 year old girls, with more than a little apprehension, the only thing I knew to say was, “Raise your hands if you like being lied to.” No one did. The invitation to speak came spontaneously just 3 days before, from a former teacher of mine, who told me the girls were “going through the motions to be prepared for the biggest event for Latino girls…their Quincinera.” I prayed for guidance and trusted that the Holy Spirit would provide the words, which I knew I didn’t have, for such hard-shelled kids. And they came, such that I found myself surprised at my directness toward these young people, whom I had been warned, would likely be disruptive. That was not the case – For more than an hour, they listened, with heavily made up eyes looking intently at the stranger in front of them. “We are a miracle people” was a statement I repeated throughout the talk.

A few days earlier, I had met with my 7th grade teacher, Sr. Maria Elena, of The Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary to show and tell her what God had blessed me with….a sudden gift of painting images of Faith. All my life I had the desire to paint but seriously lacked the necessary ability. I shared the story of the first inspiration, (at age 52) to paint Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the amazing grace of being invited at about the halfway point, to give a ProLife talk at an annual Indian congress, never before having such an honor and the humbling fact that “Holding on to Faith” was quickly approved by the National Tekakwitha Conference, known to be very selective.

Sister beamed one of her famous bright smiles as I told her how, on his last Ad Liminae visit with Pope John Paul II, Bishop James Sullivan of the Fargo, ND diocese, personally gave him some of my family’s hand crafted Christ-mas ornaments and relayed back to me that the Pope prayed a powerful blessing, naming us…how I claimed the graces of that blessing with all my heart and from then on, how events continued to unfold, leading to the answer to my life-long prayer….to paint…Jesus, Mary and other images of Faith and Truth.

As I conveyed the story of the paintings, the teens seemed to grab the fact that God does hear our prayers but that sometimes he wants to see our faithfulness to Him before he answers – in the best possible way, at the best possible time, for our good and others as well. In my own case, I related reading Humanae Vitae (of Human Life) as a newlywed and realizing a call to promote the sanctity of human life. I co-founded a chapter of Catholics United for Life, went to trial twice for “sidewalk counseling” at a local abortion mill, (both times vindicated due to the power of The Rosary) had eight children, when many of our friends were opting for procedures to preclude a large family and started a family business, called Mother of Eight Designs, to further promote faith and family. Then I shared how we left our entire extended family to move to the rural state of North Dakota, where we had no relatives to start a whole new life.

I told them, “It is through the graces of the sacraments that our spiritual antennae become finely tuned….through a strong prayer life, that we allow God to transform us – prune us, in order to bear fruit. Further, I shared, once He finally let me paint, I had to endure many humiliations and trials….but that each time I would offer these to God, through Mary, Mediatrix of Grace, in atonement for sinners and reparation for my own sins, the grace would be evident, in that the painting(s) would take a leap of progress. It was exciting to see their eyes light up, to learn that something real happens when we unite our suffering to that of our Lord….the artwork, I said, “was a way to see this reality in a visual way. The Holy Spirit let these precious teens know, that He is very active in our lives and they truly seemed to love that. Teens want to hear our stories…illustrating this Truth.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned asking, “who liked being lied to.” I felt led to give them a little Theology of the Body….that it is in and through the body, that we perceive the reality of the spiritual (God’s love and Truth) and likewise, in and through the body, that satan tries to rob us of our souls….They looked truly appalled when I said, “Yes, you are being lied to, and many times a day, by the author of lies, via the popular media, advertising industry, porn and often, peers…etc.” Further, if they had sexually sinned in any manner…they could regain their purity “right across the street in the confessional.”

It was overwhelming, when, at the end of the talk, they all chattered happily, as they signed chastity pledges and literally squealed their desire to have a print of “The Light of Life,” showing Jesus in the womb of His Mother, Mary!

To date, God has graciously allowed me to create more than 30 paintings to help build the “Culture of Life”….the phrase introduced by Blessed John Paul II. A great blessing came last June, when the young deacon, who chanted the Gospel at his Beatification Mass requested my artwork for his ordination prayer cards! We can never imagine what can happen when we believe we are a miracle people!

To see Nellie’s artwork, visit

To contact the artist


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  1. What an inspirational story! It goes to show that it’s not really so hard to get the attention of our youth. They just need to hear a message that cuts to the heart of the issue. Then, giving them sacred images, goes a long way to open their minds and hearts. Great article!

  2. When pro-life advocates gather for weekly prayer outside an abortion business in Robbinsdale, Minn., this fall, they’ll have a powerful spiritual aide at their side — Jesus, in the Eucharist. Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has given permission to Pro-Life Action Ministries to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a home that sits next door to the abortion business. Pro-Life Action Ministries has owned the two-bedroom residence for nearly nine years. It has been used for meetings and prayer. The back yard of the home overlooks the front doors of the Robbinsdale Clinic. The Robbinsdale Clinic is one of about seven abortion businesses in the state. According to State Department of Health statistics, the business performs, on average, approximately 2,000 abortions annually. Late last fall, Pro-Life Action Ministries sought and received permission from Archbishop Flynn to reserve the Eucharist at the home. “This is a culmination of what our desires have been,” says Brian Gibson, executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries, which was founded by Franciscan Brothers of Peace Michael Gaworski and Paul O’Donnell in 1981. Gibson sent a letter to Archbishop Flynn last October requesting permission to have the Blessed Sacrament at the site. “I don’t know of any other pro-life property that has the Eucharist reserved so close by.” Father Thomas Dufner of Holy Family Catholic Church has been leading the Rosary at the site every Saturday morning since 1992. He is joined by between 35 and 50 people, who gather in the front yard of the home to pray 15 decades of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. The group — known as Rosaries for Life — has been praying here since 1991, when Peggy Powell gathered more than 150 people for prayer. Powell founded the group to gather people for peaceful, non-confrontational prayer outside half a dozen abortion businesses in the Twin Cities. “The first time I went to an abortion business to pray, I was afraid,” says Powell. “But once we prayed the Rosary, there was such peace. I realized that the Rosary was the greatest weapon against this evil. I’ve never seen anything as powerful in my whole life as the power of the Rosary at the abortion clinic.” Powell is hopeful that Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist will bring about change at the abortion facility. “There is no greater prayer than praying in the presence of Our Lord,” says Powell, who now helps set up Eucharistic adoration at local parishes. At least 40 parishes in the Twin Cities have some form of regular Eucharistic adoration. Another 38 have asked for her help in getting adoration started. “I think it will have a tremendous effect on this abortion business.” While the home has occasionally been used for prayer, most praying has been done outside, on the lawn, where Rosaries for Life has placed a tall crucifix and a statue of the Mother of Christ. Before the Blessed Sacrament arrives, the home is undergoing a much-needed renovation, which Gibson hopes will be complete by the end of the summer. “We want the building to be aesthetically correct for the reservation of the Eucharist,” says Gibson. Pro-Life Action Ministries is trying to raise money to finish the renovations. At present, the home’s former garage has been transformed into a place of prayer. It contains artwork, kneelers and a Scripture verse from Proverbs painted on one wall. Organizers are not certain how plans for the Eucharist will be realized. While it is certain that the Eucharist will be kept in a tabernacle, they do not yet know whether perpetual Eucharistic adoration will be available at the site or not. That depends, in part, on local parish involvement. Hope Springs Father Dufner sees great benefit to the possibility of having people coming and going around the clock for prayer. He says that he has witnessed enormous blessings in his own life as a result of praying at the site. “The graces I brought home from the abortion mill were enormous,” says Father Dufner. “It began with the conversion of a shirt-tail relative of mine who had cancer who I would visit now and again after praying at the clinic. That assured me of the graces I was bringing home from that location.” The priest hopes to utilize the Blessed Sacrament during those times when he leads the Rosary outside the home. “We might have exposition while we are at prayer,” says Father Dufner. “I would hope that a large monstrance could be placed in the window near the crucifix so that, when we are praying, we would have the monstrance before us.” Gibson hopes that Archbishop Flynn could be present for a blessing and Mass when the Body of Christ is first placed in the home. “He is placing a lot of trust in our organization by graciously allowing this,” says Gibson. “Hopefully, bringing Our Lord there, in the presence of the people of God, will close that abortion business.” Tim Drake is the Register’s senior writer.

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