Virgin of Fatima, Children of Fatima,Three Sheep, Joseph and Christ Child
"Wickham’s most complex grouping was placed in a meadow located a little distance from his cabin. At first it held a simple sundial consisting of a tall pole at the center of a four-inch high ring of concrete marked with the hours of the day. Spanning some thirty feet, it was described by its maker as the largest sundial in the world. Michael Dinsmore remembers stopping by as a boy and being amazed to find the timepiece accurate within two minutes.
Wickham soon elaborated on the site, moving his statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from near his cabin to the sundial. He then placed a statue of Joseph holding the Christ Child nearby, creating a kind of “Holy Family” tableau. Wickham dresses his Joseph in twentieth century carpenter’s attire: concrete overalls. Even Joseph’s chest pocket is filled with a flat carpenter’s pencil made of concrete. The Christ Child looks convincingly child-like, except for the triangular halo atop his head, which once was once illuminated by three light bulbs.
A pole modeled as a realistic tree trunk was added later to hold a statue of the Virgin of Fatima thirty feet off the ground. Crowned by a metal orb, with a halo of light bulbs behind her head (which Wickham powered from his cabin), the Virgin of Fatima had long spikes projecting out into space that appeared to form a sort of oval frame around her. Cut sheet metal shapes attached to these spikes have been interpreted as flames, or, perhaps, as leaves. Though these details may seem odd at first, knowledge of the legendary apparition suggests that Wickham was attempting to accurately depict the scene as it has been described in oral and written accounts.
One of the most famous Marian shrines in the world, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is located in Fatima, a small town north of Lisbon, Portugal. The apparition of Our Lady of Fatima occurred six times between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917. According to the records of the Catholic Church, three shepherd children saw a female figure “brighter than the sun, standing on a cloud over an evergreen tree.”5 Asked by this mysterious apparition to return to the site on the 13th of each month for the next five months, the children did so, accompanied by an ever growing number of spectators. The crowds increased from fifty in June to 50,000 in October, though only the children saw the apparition. At her last appearance in October, she revealed her identity to the children as Our Lady of the Rosary. Though only the children saw her, others in attendance remarked on seeing the sun appear in the dismal rainy sky and “tremble, rotate violently, and finally fall, dancing over the heads of the crowd.” Though some in the throng of onlookers had been skeptical, many changed their attitude after attending the October 13 vision.
Surrounding the “tree trunk” holding the Virgin of Fatima were three kneeling children (two girls and one boy) and three sheep (one with a suckling lamb). Wickham’s figure of the Virgin of Fatima originally wore a three-dimensional rosary, which recalls the Virgin of Fatima’s call for devotion in prayer as Our Lady of the Rosary. Viewers are left to speculate whether the sheet metal shapes on the horizontal spikes represent the flames of the dancing sun or the leaves of the wooded area where the sighting took place. A letter/message given to the three shepherd children by Our Lady of Fatima was to be opened in 1960; perhaps it was this event that inspired Wickham’s creation of this phenomenal work. " - quoted text is from the 2001 Customs House Museum Online Wickham Exhibit.
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Joseph and Christ Child
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