Sculptor Susanne Silver-Cruys
"I prayed to Padre Kino and his Patron Saint, Saint Francis Xavier, and I also prayed to the one who had left. And somehow everything became easy, and I could tell you the miracles that happened while I was working on that statue, but time does not permit, but believe me I never worked alone."
Address by the Sculptor Susanne Silver-Cruys
Mr. JAMES M. MURPHY:
Arizona is well aware of the solemnity of this occasion, yet our attitude is one of joy and happiness at the honor being done to and for Father Kino today. Many nations have contributed to today's occasion, not only our own country and Mexico, both of which did not exist at the time Father Kino lived and worked in our wonderful Southwest, but Italy, where he was born, and Spain for whom he later went to work; and of course Belgium is represented by the artist who did the beautiful work we will soon see here in Statuary Hall.
I would like at this time to calI on Susanne Silvercruys, the artist who designed this magnificent statute. I think the statute itself when you see it will do better and honor her more than any introduction I can make.
Sculptors are generally silent, they let their fingers speak for them, but today I couldn't stay silent. My heart is too full and I want to share some of my feeling with those of you who have come here to honor the great Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino.
A strange set of events cleared the way for me to have the great privilege, to have been the sculptor of this statue. First of all it had to bring me from Belgium to my beloved America. Then it had to make me very ill so that I could discover sculpture. Then my husband, who was gassed in the First World War, told me one day at the end of his life that we should have gone to live in Arizona. But the good Lord called him away before we had time to go there; and then sentimentally, 4 years ago, I went to Tucson, Ariz.
When I met Arizona I fell in love with Arizona. I bought land to build there, and eventually a competition was opened and I was permitted to compete. I need not tell you, because it is human, of my joy at having won the competition. But much greater than my joy was my feeling of unworthiness. So what did I do, I started praying, I prayed to Padre Kino and his Patron Saint, Saint Francis Xavier, and I also prayed to the one who had left. And somehow everything became easy, and I could tell you the miracles that happened while I was working on that statue, but time does not permit, but believe me I never worked alone. My hands were held and my faith grew as I worked. I researched on Kino. I wanted to be very accurate on garb and accouterment and every detail and I can't name all the people, some of them in this room, who helped me, sent me books. But one person I have to single out, that is Father Burrus, whom you will hear later, who gave me confidence. I must also single out Mr. Silvio Bedini who permitted me to copy the astrolabe, an important instrument to discover Arizona. But most of all I want you to know that as I worked I lived with Padre Kino; and some of the writings about him I will quote very briefly.
This is one from Mr. Wellman, who said:
"He was energetic to the point of ferocity. He did not sleep ever in a bed, but on rugs on the floor. Even with fever he would not take to a bed. And in the light 'of aim he was merciful to others, but cruel to himself." And then in the light of aim adding: "He never owned white trousers, nor more than two coarse shirts. In my mind's eye I could see Padre Kino standing on the ship that was taking him away from Bruno to La Paz. Seeing on the shore some little Indians that he had to leave there, and at night kneeling to pray. And the man at the wheel turned to the Captain and said: 'You know Captain he's praying to go back to that desert and those Indians.' The Captain said, 'He's crazy!' 'No,' said the man, 'he is not crazy, he is a Saint.' "
So, in ending I want to read you the passage of the book by a very talented writer whom I hope is in this room today. Her name is Jack Steffan.
"Padre Kino garbed in beautiful vestment stands before the altar. Bells chimed, and Padre Kino's thin brown hands raised the Host slowly, reverently, triumphantly above his head. The
richly ornamented chalice then was lifted, set again upon the altar. Then in the presence of his Lord, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino crumpled to the floor.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I believe he is a saint!
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