What Does this Wood Carving Mean?

by Steve Ray on August 10, 2012

This was in the hospital. What does it mean?

When I went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital to visit my dad in Ann Arbor Michigan, I stopped by to pray at the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. I also went to Mass once. In front of the chapel was this wood carving.

I also, like all of you, sat in front of it puzzled. Who are the women, what’s in their hands? What does it mean? Then it came to me. A catholic hospital, especially one with the word “mercy” in it’s name, practices the Corporal Acts of Mercy.

The six items held by the women representing the virtues or acts of mercy are taken straight from the Gospels – from Matthew 25:34-36 and are the basis for judging whether people are going to heaven or hell.

From the gospel we read: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; ?for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, ? I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'”

Humbling words! I think the 5th image represents flowers that are often brought to the sick in hospitals.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alicja August 11, 2012 at 6:27 AM

My guess is a carving representing all the things we have to leave behind at death e.g food, water, house, clothes, sustenance such as money and in the end the chains of mortality…..I could be wrong of course :))))

Pooh Bear August 11, 2012 at 6:50 AM

Matthew 25:31-46e

Kathy August 11, 2012 at 7:39 AM

I think it’s the Corporeal Works of Mercy minus ‘To Bury the Dead’. Also, I’m not sure why ‘To Visit the Sick’ is a plant branch.

Maucher August 11, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Is it the 6 corporal works of mercy? I don’t know about the fifth one. Which hospital is this carving located?

De Maria August 11, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Perhaps the woman, who is wearing a different hair style in each depiction, represents “Mercy” herself.

And the fifth object is perhaps a “medicinal herb”. They do seem to be straight out of Matt 25:34-36.

Food, drink, home, clothes, visiting the sick with medicine and visiting those who are imprisoned or shackled.


De Maria

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