Frederick Franck is an extraordinarily versatile polymath. During his life, which has spanned most of the twentieth century, he has been fortunate to have met, and even worked with, some of its spiritual giants.
Born in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 1909, he studied medicine in his native country, graduated in dentistry in Belgium and acquired a degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He practiced privately in London, but spent his weekends with a group of Quakers working for the unemployed miners in Wales. In London, in the late 1930s, he began studying art seriously.
He came to America in 1939 and received his American degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where he taught Oral Surgery and Anesthesiology until 1944, when he went to Australia where he served as consultant with the then Netherlands Indies Government until the end of World War II. He returned to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1945. He practiced dentistry in New York Citybut for only two days a week. The rest of the time he wrote and painted in his studio on Bleecker Street, which according to legend, had once housed Edgar Allen Poe. He became successful as a painter and had regular one-man exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Amsterdam.
From 1958 to 1961 he served as oral surgeon on the medical staff of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, where he founded a dental and oral surgery clinic on behalf of MEDICO-CARE. His book, Days with Albert Schweitzer, was praised by The New York Times as the best book on Schweitzer to date and was translated into ten languages.
In 1963 he was awarded an Honary Doctorate in Fine Arts by the University of Pittsburgh.
On reading Pope John XXIIIs opening speech to the Second Vatican Council, Franck felt it would be the spiritual watershed of the century. He flew to Rome and was the only artist to draw all four sessions from 1962 to 1965. About 80 of these drawings now belong to the St. Louis Priory, another 100 are in the collections of the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Pope John XXIII awarded him a medal of appreciation for these drawings. It arrived as the radio was broadcasting the news of the popes death. Franck flew to Rome to draw this genius of the heart one last time, on his bier.
In the late 1960s, Franck moved to the countryside to concentrate on his drawing, painting, sculpture, and writing. Today, he and his wife, Claske, live in Warwick, New York, where they have converted the ruins of an eighteenth century watermill into an oasis of peace and sanity called Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). This transreligious sanctuary, with its gardens and numerous sculptures by Franck, is dedicated to Pope John XXIII, Albert Schweitzer, and the Japanese Buddhist sage Daisetz T. Suzuki. This quiet, non-sectarian, sacred space has been made available for Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Shinto services. Its exceptional acoustics make it ideal for chamber music and spiritual drama, which is frequently offered.
Francks drawings and paintings are part of the permanent collections of a score of museums in America and abroad, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Fogg Museum, the Tokyo National Museum, as well as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Many of his sculptures are in public places in the United States and abroad. The Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities exhibited his Drawings of Lambaréné: Albert Schweitzers Hospital in Action, which toured the country.
His numerous books, listed in the front of this volume, deal with drawing as a mode of meditation in action, with his African and Asian experiences, and his consistent, experiential affirmation and personal commitment to the convergences of Eastern and Western spirituality, of which he may be recognized as a forerunner, long before it became an academic specialty.
Ever since he dictated his first book to Cl