MADISON, Wisconsin — Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison blessed the newly installed pro-life sculpture by Slovakian artist Martin Hudáček, calling it a compelling witness to the dignity of every human life and the “fundamental conviction that death does not have the final say.”
About 75 people gathered at Resurrection Cemetery on Madison’s west side on November 4th for the blessing and dedication of “The Memorial of Unborn Children II,” a sculpture depicting the shock, horror, grief and regret of parents who have lost a child to abortion. The work, set on top of a 10,000-pound granite columbarium that will hold cremated remains of the faithful, has drawn widespread praise from pro-life leaders for including the father in the responsibility and grief of abortion.
“By the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, every human life is transformed and given an eternal destiny. These are reminders to us in stone and in marble that fundamental conviction that death does not have the final say on it,” Bishop Hying said. “In a special way we pray for lost children. That’s through crib death or miscarriage, abortion — all the ways that children are sadly and tragically lost at the very beginning of their lives. This statue points us in the direction of the absolute dignity of every one of those lives, that those lives matter to God and they matter to us, that they are not forgotten, they are not lost and through the power of our prayer, we lift them up to the Lord Jesus.”
An anonymous donor gifted the Hudáček sculpture, which is a follow-up work to the artist’s widely acclaimed sculpture depicting the soul of an aborted child reaching out to her mother in forgiveness and mercy. The new sculpture powerfully depicts the shock and shame of the father at seeing his lost daughter, appearing as a 4-year-old. He supports and comforts the mother while reaching out to the outstretched arms of the child. The Diocese of Madison is the only site outside of Europe to have this Hudáček sculpture. Only three exist worldwide.
Bishop Hying incensed the columbarium and sculpture before blessing it with Holy Water. The bishop said the artwork sends a message of hope. “So for all of that grace and mercy and salvation offered to us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we stand here with grateful hearts as we bless this wonderful work that speaks to us of hope beyond the grave, the dignity of life and the power of the Resurrection.”
With November being a month dedicated to prayers for the dead, Bishop Hying remembered his older brother, Patrick Thomas Hying, who died the day before Thanksgiving in 1969, at age 10. “To pray for the dead is the most loving thing we can possibly do. When we pray for the dead, they are loved, they are remembered and are lifted up to God through the power of our prayer,” Bishop Hying said. “My brother Patrick died when he was 10 and my mother always said it’s when she went to Mass that she felt the most profoundly connected. It’s in the Mass that we live out the mystery of the communion of saints.”
In an interview after the dedication, Bishop Hying said Hudáček’s work makes a lasting impression of the incalculable worth of human life. “The statue is compelling. It’s certainly a powerful visual of the beauty of children, and especially the pathos of lost children,” Bishop Hying said. “That’s exactly what it speaks to. No matter how short a life is, or the circumstances of life or death, each person is a brother or sister to us, and we’re bound together in Christ, and specifically in His death and Resurrection.”
Bishop Hying said he hopes those who view the sculpture will be touched by its message, “that it would bring a sign of God’s healing for those who mourn the loss of children and also a reminder of the precious gift of the child from conception onwards. It speaks powerfully of the gift of life, but also the promise of eternal life even in death.”
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