Dear Cloture Historian –
First, great we finally have some fact or fiction for the stories in the Capitol. When I was an intern, I was told that the Father Damian Statue was just like him in that he wore a boxlike cloak to shield him from contracting leprosy. Is there even a shred of truth behind that?”
My amazing powers of history tell me that you were told quite the tall tale. The bronze statue of Father Damien, which was given on April 15, 1969, is based on photographs taken of Father Damien near the end of his life, with the scars of his disease visible on his face and his right arm in a sling beneath his cloak. His broad-brimmed hat was traditionally worn by missionaries. His right hand holds a cane.
The artist, Marisol Escobar, from New York typically has her artwork displayed in a box-like fashion, so thus he looks like one giant bronze box. No he did not wear a boxlike cloak to shield him from contracting leprosy. However, he did later contract the disease and die from it on April 15, 1889 (the statue having been dedicated 80 years after his death). The statue is currently in the Hall of Columns on the House side of the Capitol.
– Cloture Historian
Got any more historical brain twisters? Email your questions to