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Archives: May 2021
Last year we were gifted a new bronze sculpture by Peter Walker, entitled Pity of War. You can find this striking image near the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is a maquette for a much larger sculpture that is yet to be cast.
Peter Walker is a British artist who works in many different media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, light and sound installations, etc. His works can be found in cities throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. LuxMuralis, e.g. one of his light and sound installations was at the Cathedral of Saint Paul last December.
Peter Walker is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He is artist-in-Residence at Lichfield Cathedral. Pity of War was conceived to join the memorials for different causes scattered among some 25,000 trees in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in Great Britain.
Pity of War is intended to honor the millions of nameless and voiceless and forgotten victims of war and human atrocities whose lives were upended against their will. The sculpture honors those bereaved by loss of loved ones, of their home or property; those who were forced to flea and now live in refugee camps or were forced to move to lands other than their own where they are more or less welcome; those who are suffering from post-traumatic distress and lifelong disabilities.
Pity of War depicts the head of a young child. Her eyes are strikingly bound and her mouth is shown shockingly silenced by abstraction and even by the removal of certain features such as her mouth and ears. Without words the image commands attention and draws the beholder into the narrative.
In Peter’s words, Pity of War is “not only about the past, but about the present and the future. It is both a commemoration and a challenge.” Since we received Pity of War I have been able to spend time with it. The sculpture really speaks to me. It has given me solace as I have come to it with a heavy heart wondering if we will ever get it right. Sitting with the sculpture I have pondered our broken world and our apparent inability to stop ourselves from adding on to the brokenness time after time.
And though it was conceived to commemorate victims of war I started to rename the sculpture: Pity of Violence; Pity of Abuse; Pity of Intolerance; Pity of Bigotry; Pity of White Supremacy; Pity of Racism.
I welcome Peter’s words that this sculpture is not only a memorial to past victims. It is also, and maybe even more importantly a challenge to all of us today; a challenge to be better; a challenge to work for change; a challenge to end all wars, violence, abuse, bigotry, supremacy and racism.
I am very grateful to add this sculpture to our art collection here at The Basilica of Saint Mary during these times filled with challenge and hope. I only wish it was much larger so that it might speak even more loudly to even more people.
When you visit The Basilica next, please visit Pity of War and let this sculpture speak to you. It is my hope that it will help us in our mission to change hearts and promote the values of equity, diversity and inclusivity.
I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Today I have four things I would like to mention. First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for your ongoing financial support for The Basilica. Your financial support enables us to continue to offer the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. As your pastor, I want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.
Second, I want to let you know about a couple of capital improvement projects that will be taking place this summer at The Basilica. The first is that we will once again be tuck pointing the western exterior walls of The Basilica. This will probably be an on-going project for the next few years, as we remove the old mortar from between the stones and replace it with new mortar. The new mortar will help keep water from penetrating into the interior of The Basilica.
The second major project will be the water proofing of the basement rooms in our school building. Water penetration has been an issue in the school basement for several years. We hope our work this summer will finally solve this problem. Both of these projects are being funded by The Basilica Landmark.
Third, as I’m recording this greeting, there are news reports that Governor Walz will announce the relaxation of some of the current restrictions for public activities. We will certainly review any revisions to the guidelines for public activities. At this time, however, we anticipate maintaining our check-in protocols for the foreseeable future.
If you are planning to attend any liturgies at The Basilica in the next few weeks, we ask you to pre-register via our website, and enter through the doors on the ground level on the western side of The Basilica. Pre-registration makes the check-in process much faster. Additionally, in the unlikely event that someone who attended one of our liturgies, is diagnosed with the Covid virus, we will be able to contact people and inform you of this. As always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via our livestream.
Finally, I invite you to join us for Zoom Coffee and Conversation next Wednesday at 9:00am. Michael Reinhardt, one of our parishioners will join us. Michael will be ordained a priest for our Archdiocese on Saturday May 29 and will say his first Mass here at The Basilica on Sunday May 33. He will share his faith journey with us from becoming a Catholic to his decision to enter the seminary. You can find the link for this Zoom conversation on our website.
Let me close today in prayer.
Loving God we ask you:
Help us: That we might be grateful for what we have, and not focus on what we don’t have or have lost.
Strengthen us: That we might not feel discouraged or overwhelmed.
Embrace us: That we might know your loving presence within us, around us and among us.
Walk with us: That we might bring your love and carry your light into our world.
Stay with us: That we might know your peace and consolation.
Complete us: That we might come to know the fullness of your love in eternal life.
We ask all of this through Christ our Lord.
News and Resources
In our weekly video series "Art That Surrounds Us," Johan van Parys, Ph.D., our Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts, shares information about a piece from The Basilica of Saint Mary's art collection.
On February 1, 1926, Pope Pius XI bestowed the title of Minor Basilica on what was then known as the Pro-Cathedral of Saint Mary. The symbol of a half-opened umbrella, known as an ombrellino or umbraculum, is a symbol for a basilica with historical roots. This week, Johan shares more about these roots and our newly commissioned ombrellino, which was blessed by Archbishop Bernard Hebda on Easter.