Rachel Weeping For Her Children
Twenty-six years ago, Bishop Walter Sullivan of the Diocese of Richmond, well known for his love and devotion to peace and inter group relations, asked Linda Gissen to meet with him to discuss his desire to commission a meaningful and permanent sculpture to teach the lessons of the Holocaust and honor the martyrs of the Shoah.
Bishop Sullivan and Linda met often and decided to use the verse from Jeremiah 31:14 as the inspiration for the sculpture.
“A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone”
In the Beginning…
Gissen imagined how to transform this passage into visual form; an image came to mind: a grief stricken, inconsolable, emaciated maternal image, weeping with hands to her face, engulfed and surrounded by six flames representing the six million who had perished. As she created the sculpture, Bishop Sullivan and one of the Parish priests often visited her studio to watch Rachel emerge.
Gissen created the sculpture of copper and bronze, handcrafting it using the flames of an oxyacetylene welding torch. With Rachel’s granite base, engraved with the word “remember” in both Hebrew and English, she stands 11 feet tall. Rachel, installed on the South lawn of The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart faces the street so that all may stop, reflect and remember. A dedication stone, placed near the sidewalk in front of the statue, is engraved: “Rachel Weeping for Her Children, In Memory of the Martyrs of the Holocaust, April, 28, 1987.”
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, People of all backgrounds gathered at The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Richmond to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of “Rachel Weeping for her Children,
”The sculpture was initially dedicated on Yom HaShoah, in April of 1987. The sculpture is the first public Holocaust memorial in the state of Virginia, and the only one commissioned by a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the country.
Restoring Rachel in 2003
Linda cleaning the Rachel Sculpture
Working with the materials
Top to bottom restore
More Women of the Bible
Women of the Bible note cards or greeting cards. Cards with images featuring 6 hand sculpted, bronze, Biblical female figures. If desired, you may choose all of one figure including Ester, Rachel, Ruth, Abigail, Rebekah and a woman Rabbi. (Deborah not shown)
The Past Which Looks Through My Eyes