Virgo Vestalis

My inspiration for the "Virgo Vestalis" project came from my mother, who as a young woman immigrated to the United States from Greece, embracing her faith by teaching her children through Biblical storytelling. The Biblical scripture reads: "Then the kingdom of heaven will be compared to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom...And five of them were foolish and five were prudent.".. The foolish took no oil for their lamps and the prudent took oil with their lamps. In our time the biblical story becomes a parable: the prudent virgins are the true believers in a God, in life after death, in a religion; the foolish virgins are professed believers. There is however, a more recognizable knowledge of "Virgo Vestalis" from Ancient Roman and Greek history (6th Century B.C. to the end of the 4th Century A.D.). The highest priest (Pontifex Maximus) chose vestals, very young girls age six to ten, from distinguished patrician families. These virgin holy priestesses of Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth fire and in Greece, Hestia, the goddess of hearth and home, were in charge of maintaining the sacred fire within the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Hestia. Chosen vestals served for 30 years and took vows of chastity. Vestals were symbols of Roman and Greek integrity. Their virginity had tremendous power, a signifier of the political stability of the state. A lapse by a single priestess threatened the existence of the state. Punishment for broken vows was entombment alive. "Virgo Vestalis" stood aloof from the rest of the citizenry. They were revered, enjoyed more rights and after thirty years of service were offered a life of freedom. The Biblical reference and the historical knowledge of "Virgo Vestalis" in Ancient Roman and Greek cultures give us a new perspective. "Virgo Vestalis" are a unique part of history and have an important role in the history of women.

Vestments are displayed on wooden armatures. Media include Paper lithography (lithographic photocopy transfer) on fabrics, nylon and plastic screen wire, Ecclesiastical Brocade and silk cord. Size of each sculpture is: 67" H x 38"W x12" D