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Mayo-Franciscan statue salutes healers' mission

Mayo-Franciscan statue salutes healers' mission

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A sculpture titled “The Healer’s Touch” near the hospital entrance at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare symbolizes the curative mission of workers there, an official said.

“We want to thank all of you for being a part of the healing and caring environment,” chief nursing officer Diane Holmay told a crowd of nearly 50 people — about half of them Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration — at a prayer ceremony before the dedication of the statue Friday.

“The placement of ‘The Healer’s Touch’ is for all of the dedication of healers — nurses, doctors and other staff members,” Holmay said.

A member of the Shona tribe in the Republic of Zimbabwe carved the 3-foot soapstone statue, which the Franciscan Healthcare Foundation funded. The 2½-foot tall, 1,900-pound Mesabi Black granite base on which it rests was made at La Crosse Memorials.

The inscription plaque on the base reads, “This sacred place, the place of The Healer’s Touch, marks where our founding Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration initiated the ministry of healing body, mind and spirit. Ever since, thousands of healers have devoted their talent, their touch and their lives in steadfast commitment to this healing ministry and the honorable tradition of healing.”

Such sculptures are a staple in the southern African nation, said FSPA Sister Georgia Christensen, who was stationed there from 1995 to 2000 as a member of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Education Commission to help train teachers.

“As we would travel, along the side of the road in at least three-fourths of the country, indigenous people were chipping away on the sculptures,” Christensen said.

The artworks, popular among tourists, usually are made from stone “because the wood is so precious to them for firewood,” she said.

The Mayo-Franciscan sculpture, showing a healer embracing a patient, reflects the importance of traditional healers to the Shona people and is typical the interpersonal relationships tribe members hold dear, Christensen said.

For example, artists sculpt two people embracing for weddings, and two adults with children to represent familial bonds.

“The unity of the two characters is what keeps us together and heals us,” she said.

“To me, one of the very important characteristics of the sculpture is the connectiveness,” she said. “The patient also is part of the healing process.”

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