New Public Art Captures Historic Moment and Timeless Saint Leo Values

January 23, 2013

Students and other Saint Leo community members dedicated the university’s newest sculpture, “A Spirit of Belonging,” on Martin Luther King Jr., Day. The life-sized sculpture stands elevated in the courtyard between Apartment Buildings 5 and 6 at University Campus and commemorates the integration of Saint Leo in 1898. That is when the Benedictine monks who founded the institution admitted a black student, Rudolph Antorcha, even though integration was not yet legal in Florida.

The creator of the sculpture is prominent Tampa artist Steven Dickey.

Dickey told the assembled guests that the sculpture commission was “a wonderful project to have, and it’s quite a piece of history.” He had no photographs to work from so he tried to capture the emotions that would naturally accompany such a moment, the sculptor said. The student, Rudolph, must have been intelligent, but also probably had “a sense of trepidation,” Dickey surmise, while the monk’s stance represents a “welcoming” attitude.

Monks now living at the neighboring Saint Leo Abbey were present for the event, as well as the Benedictine Sisters of Florida who are also neighbors, living at Holy Name Monastery. Both Benedictine communities have played important roles at Saint Leo, which was founded in 1889.

Also on Monday as part of MLK Day programming, students and campus community members packaged 100,000 meals for the hunger relief organization Feeding Children Everywhere. Students asked that the meals be directed to Nicaragua. Additionally, some students attended an educational presentation with speaker Brent Scarpo called “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium.”

Click here to view the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue dedication video.