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St. Paul’s Cathedral to unveil La Jollan’s art

Unveiling of ‘Saint Hilda’

  • 10:30 a.m. Nov. 16
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • 2728 Sixth Ave.
  • (619) 298-7261

Many artists often see their work in prestigious places, but noted artist and La Jollan Hilda Pierce is extremely proud her latest painting, “Saint Hilda,” which will have an honored place in St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego. The Rev. Canon Jack Lindquist will perform the unveiling of the painting Nov. 16 at the Cathedral.
The story of how Pierce elected to make a painting of “Saint Hilda” came about in the last two years, but began when she was a 16-year-old girl in Vienna, Austria.

“My family had a huge farm in Vienna and was prosperous until the annexation of Austria by Hitler in 1938,” Pierce said. “The day I watched Hitler march into Vienna I knew all the Jews had to get out.”

Pierce, author of her memoir, “Hilda Pierce,” was the only one in her family to immediately evacuate to England. While working on yet another miracle of hoping to get to America, she was taken in by an English family, William and Marjory Roseveare.

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“I had stayed in their son Rob’s room while he was at college,” Pierce said. “After I came to America, we met and became good friends, and it was his wife who first informed me about Saint Hilda.”

Pierce researched and learned Hilda was born in 614 into the court of King Edwin of Northumbria, England. She had an untraditional childhood until she became a nun in 657. She became the founding abbess of a new monastery, something very unorthodox for a woman. Five men from the monastery became bishops and two are revered as saints - St. John of Beverley, Bishop of Hexham, and St. Wilfrid, Bishop of York - rendering untold service to the Anglo-Saxon Church at this critical period of history.

“She was a feminist of her time,” Pierce said. “Her abbey was one of the first to allow nuns and monks together. Because of her, many good works continued throughout history. When Cannon Jack Lindquist told me that a day to honor Saint Hilda would take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I felt inspired to create a painting.”

Working on the painting for more than five months in her La Jolla home, Pierce stayed true to Saint Hilda’s original dress but added touches of her own.

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“I put a bishop’s staff in her hand because she did the work of a bishop although she could not, by law, become one,” Pierce said.

Canon Jack Lindquist said about the painting, “We hope this painting will continue to remind us of the Roseveare family’s passion, love for humanity and wonderful outreach to a family they didn’t even know during a dark time in our history. It will certainly become a devotional icon in our cathedral that will remind Christians what they are called to do in the dark times of our world. It makes a marvelous inspiring statement.”

Pierce is donating the painting, valued at $25,000, to St. Paul’s Cathedral in honor of her foster parents, William and Marjory Roseveare.

“I’m proud this will be a tribute to William and Marjory Roseveare in gratitude for their love and kindness and for saving my parent’s lives before they had to get on the last train out of Vienna headed to the death camps,” Pierce said. “The public is invited to the unveiling of ‘Saint Hilda,’ and I’m extremely excited and honored that my painting will hang near the altar in this well-regarded cathedral.”