Bones and Ashes

The Catholic Calvary Cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful setting despite being between two busy streets in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois.  The cemetery grounds gently slope down from the Chicago Avenue Main Gate to Sheridan Road which borders Lake Michigan. 

The cemetery is the final resting place for many of the Catholic faithful, including a Father S. Moretti.  Unfortunately, his monument doesn’t give away many details about the Father—not his birth date, place of birth, place of death, or his death date—only the Latin inscription:




Roughly his epitaph translates to:

bones and ashes

brothers of the order of slaves

The B.M.V. is short for the Latin “Beata Maria Virgo” meaning “Blessed Virgin Mary”

His monument is quite impressive. A bronze statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is atop the block of light gray granite.    The canopy is supported by ornamented columns resting on a base with three steps each representing a different virtue—“Faith in the will of God…Hope for the dawn of that yet more glorious day and Charity toward all men.”

On the face of the monument is a medallion that is inscribed, “Father S. Moretti” with a base-relief sculpture of his image.  The medallion sculpture and the bronze statue of the Blessed Virgin was created by the artist Leopold Bracony.  Bracony was an accomplished sculpture and an example of his work can be found at Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana. 

According to a story that appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Purdue Alumnus magazine, Bracony’s statue, “”Tired Boy,” the bronze sculpture centered in Windsor Circle near the entrance of Wood Hall, was part of a collection of gifts donated to the University by philanthropist and art collector Catherine Barker Hickox of Michigan City, Indiana.

“Its sculptor, Leopold Bracony, was inspired by an incident he witnessed during World War I. He noticed two people, a small boy and a woman, who stopped to rest in the midst of the bombing. Touched by the confidence the tired child placed in the woman, Bracony created the sculpture as a symbol of faith.”

The statue was originally owned by Barker Hickox, the only child of millionaire industrialist John H. Barker and was heiress to the Pullman-Standard railroad company fortune, donated the statue to Purdue University. 

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2 Responses to Bones and Ashes

  1. gsb03632 says:

    Thanks for this important publication of a funerary portrait by a name artist! With regard to the Latin,
    note that the inscription reads _ordinis_. I agree that B.M.V. means Blessed Virgin Mary, but it should be understood as a possessive, as follows:
    B[eatae] M[ariae] V[irginis]
    [Here lie] the bones and ashes
    of the brothers of the order of servants
    of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    See the titulature here:
    Most interesting is that Moretti is highlighted (as the local founder?), whereas the monument is a common one for all members of the (local) congregation. Maybe that explains why the monument has no list of names on it (except Moretti’s in the portrait medallion).
    Anyway, this is just great.

  2. HRG says:

    Thank you for this interesting entry. It seems, however, that Bracony was not quite honest when describing the sculpture now at Purdue as inspired by an incident during WWI – a photo of the sculpture can already be found in a pre-WWI article on him in the NYT: “A Bird of Passage: The Sculptor Bracony Pitches His Artistic Tent in New York for the Winter.” NYT (Dec. 31, 1905): Part 4 p.8.

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