People visiting hospitals often comment that they feel angels watching them.
At Providence Holy Cross, that’s an understatement.
In the hallway near the entrance to the hospital, there’s a whole band of angels waiting to offer solace and hope.
“My mom was very supportive of the “Art of Healing” – an arts partnership with the schools to feature elementary students’ creations in the waiting areas of the hospital and clinics,” explained Jeri Seratti-Goldman, who sits on the hospital’s board of directors. “We thought it would be cool for people to walk into the lobby and see the art kids have created.”
Seratti’s mother, Jean, was a force of nature supporting the hospital. When she became ill with cancer, she spent many hours there as a patient, with her daughter by her side.
“There would be times when I’d sit with my mom for nine hours while she was getting her treatment,” she said. “I would doodle. I wouldn’t put on the TV because I didn’t want to wake her.”
“Art was one of her passions and I felt as a family we needed to give people something to inspire them and take them away for a moment,” Seratti-Goldman said. “I knew art could do that. When you spend hours and hours at the hospital, you have to try and regroup and get inspired to go back.”
When her mother passed away, she wanted to continue the legacy her mother had begun.
Another series of circumstances brought artist Frank Rock to Jeri’s attention and he offered to create a mural honoring Jean Seratti.
He came up with the theme of a diverse palette of angels by talking with Seratti-Goldman and hospital administrators about the patients at the hospital.
“Because there were so many ethnic groups that the hospital cared for, I suggested the theme of “Angels of Many Cultures,” he said.
He researched and re-created angel images from around the world, including angels of Russian, Italian, African-American, Polynesian, Hispanic, Celtic, Victorian American and a cherub design filling the heavens between logo angels from the Providence Holy Cross décor.
As he worked, he often gathered a crowd.
“Several times, as people would come by and look at the angels closely and some of them would cross themselves,” he said. “Other times they would comment on how spiritual it looked to them. One lady asked if she could touch the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe, sadly, I had to tell her she couldn’t because it wasn’t sealed yet.”
“I noticed that people would stop and really focus on the Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Celtic angels, maybe because they had the most color,” Rock said.
In December 2008, the Seratti-Goldman family gathered to dedicate the mural. Rock’s mother, sister, wife and two of his children were there to offer their support and show their family pride in his work.
“I always felt like I had an angel on my shoulder going through this,” Seratti-Goldman said. “What a cool legacy for my mom. It just felt right for our family. When you get such incredible care, you want to give back. It’s ongoing, it doesn’t stop. One can have an impact on the other.”
Providence Holy Cross spokeswoman Patricia Aidem said that the mural has become a focal point for other visitors, whether they are there for a long time or infrequently.
“People will walk by the mural and stop at the end, then turn around and slowly trace it back,” she said. “I don’t think it hits them at first, but they appear to be very moved after they’ve spent some time. It’s a very peaceful thing.”