Friday, September 2, 2016

When visiting different places

The Constitutional
When visiting different places, I like to share some of the unique things that you might not hear about through normal channels.  Today begins a weekend of celebration for the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine in the United States. That will be featured on the US Federation Facebook page and next week’s website article.
However, in 2015 the sisters participated in a unique community project to highlight the declaration of the City of St. Augustine as a compassionate city. It is one of 20 cities worldwide to claim the title of Compassionate City.  St. Augustine is both a historical city and one that highly values public works of art.  So it chose a unique project to showcase both. 

Mother House of the Sisters of St Joseph of Augustine

In developing this project, Compassionate St. Augustine, a group formed to focus on their role as a compassionate city, decided to highlight a historic monument in St. Augustine, the 30 foot obelisk, “Monument to the Constitution” on St. Augustine’s public square.  
Description of the Constitutional Obelisk

This monument was erected in 1813 to commemorate the first constitutional government in Spain.  St. Augustine was part of Spain at that time.  The obelisk, placed in the town plaza, was to represent the four foundational values of the Spanish Constitution: freedom, democracy, human rights, and compassion. In 1814 when the constitutional government in Spain was overthrown and the monarchy restored, the order to destroy the obelisks throughout the realm was given.  However, St. Augustine refused to comply.  Their obelisk is thought to be the only one unaltered one remaining.

Compassionate St. Augustine commissioned obelisks to be created and displayed around the city.  The goal of the art display was to visually symbolize the yearning for a legacy of compassion, healing, and hope for future generations as expressed by people both locally and globally.  In 2015, the Compassionate St Augustine Oblelisk Art project was unveiled.  One was to be placed in the garden at the Mother House.

Lace signifying
the origins in Le Puy
The Compassion Obelisk
Wendy Mandel McDaniel, the creator of the Sisters of St. Joseph obelisk offered this explanation of her work, “Because my obelisk will be displayed in the serene gardens of the Sisters of St Joseph Mother House, I have incorporated some of their story as well.  The Sisters came from Le Puy, France in 1866, to teach the children of recently freed African American slaves (see photo of their first class of students).  Since arriving in the U.S., their main mission has been one of education.  Thirty-six years ago, Sister Diane Couture began the Art of Dreams, dedicated to providing a nurturing environment where children can experience self-expression, self-awareness and self-discipline through arts and culture.  The Sisters also formed the SSJ Architectural Stained Glass Studio, where they teach stained glass techniques and create beautiful works of art.  I find their story and continuing work to be inspirational.  I strongly support their belief that the spirit of the arts, co-exist with the spirit of the soul.” 

Wendy’s obelisk also speaks to the other values suggested by the project, highlighting quotes from various religious and civil rights leaders, philosophers and artists.  She hopes to emphasize the oneness of humankind, our interconnections, empathy for the other, and the importance of being kind and forgiving.

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