Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hidden Bricks: In the footsteps of Mother Joseph, Astoria Synchronicities, and "Terrible Tilly" Lighthouse

While researching Mother Joseph and the sisters of Providence, I discovered that there are several Providence Medical facilities that have a 1/4 size copy of the statue of MJ that is in the national gallery. We went to Providence Hospital in Portland to find the closest one to us. 

Her tools at her feet. 

While I came to track down Mother Joseph, Providence also highly honors her predecessor, Beloved Emilie Gamelin, the foundress of the Sisters of Providence. She's another remarkable woman I never would have encountered without looking into Hidden bricks. In 1960, the Catholic church began what they called the "investigation process" to work towards her beatification and canonization (Sainthood). She's also a really big deal.

From Wikipedia:

 "In 1983, an inquiry into Gamelin's canonization cause was begun by a diocesan tribunal. The evidence heard by the tribunal was compiled into a document called a positio, which was sent to Rome and presented to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The positio was examined by a committee of expert theologians and, upon their recommendation, Pope John Paul II declared Gamelin to be Venerable (the second of the four stages of sainthood) on 23 December 1993.[8]
Also in 1983, a 13-year-old boy named Yannick Fréchette was observed to make a surprising recovery from leukemia following prayer directed to Mother Émilie Gamelin. 

The medical file relating to this case was submitted to doctors in Rome, and in 1999 those doctors unanimously declared Fréchette's recovery to be a miracle, attributable to the intercession of Gamelin. The healing was formally acknowledged as an authentic miracle by Pope John Paul II on 18 December 2000. The declaration of a miracle enabled Gamelin to meet the requirements for beatification, the third of the four stages of sainthood, and on 7 October 2001 Pope John Paul II beatified her. As a result of her beatification, Gamelin received the title "Blessed", and public veneration to her was authorized by the Roman Catholic Church in areas associated with her.[8]"

Inside the Chapel at Providence Portland Medical Center

To say that Gamelin lived a life of tragedy is frankly putting it lightly. Born in 1800 as the youngest of 15 children, her mother died when she was four. It is said at age three she gave up her own food for a beggar, as she was moved by his suffering. She also lost her father, sister, and sister in law by the age of 18. She thought about entering religious life early on, but at age 23 married instead.

She had three children with her husband, all three died, along with her husband by 1828. Her grief was so consuming, all she could think to do was to help others, and she opened a guest house on her property, moving in a 102 year old in need of help. Her friends and family ridiculed her. Soon two more houses and the care of 30 residents were her responsibility. Much like her protege Mother Joseph, she felt God's Providence work throughout her life:

From the Providence Archive here:

"One day she prayed at Montreal's Notre Dame church because she did not have the money to buy food. After prayers, she continued on her way to the market where she planned to beg at the stalls. An old man approached her and handed her 23 louis ($100) saying it was for the poor. Émilie Gamelin's life is filled with similar incidents in which she trusted completely in Divine Providence and was able to continue her work."

She worked with people ill with cholera and was known for changing the views of the rich towards the homeless and ill to one of compassion instead of scorn. She also had a soft spot for the disabled, as the Providence Archive continues:

"Émilie Gamelin's strong interest in the care of people with mental illness can be traced to a request made by her husband around the time of his death. John Baptiste had begged her to continue caring for Dodais, a boy with mental retardation whom he had befriended. Dodais had rescued him after an attack in which John Baptiste had been left unconscious by the side of a road. The cries of Dodais summoned help. Émilie Gamelin fulfilled her husband's wish and cared for Dodais until he died at age 30. Dodais was described as "unable to do the smallest thing for himself, and capable of uttering only confusing and unintelligible sounds." Émilie Gamelin revealed to her spiritual director that Dodais at his death was granted the use of speech long enough to thank her for her tender care. Her interest in people with mental afflictions resulted in the establishment of many institutions of care throughout Quebec.

Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal made plans to ask some women religious from Paris to become involved in and carry on the work founded by Émilie Gamelin. Eventually, the sisters under consideration sent word that they could not come to Canada. The Bishop made a prayerful decision to found a diocesan order of women religious to carry on Émilie Gamelin's work. Although she was not among the original group of seven sisters, Émilie Gamelin soon became a novice and on March 30, 1844, she became Mother Gamelin, the first Superior General of the young community."

And thus the Sisters of Providence were born. Mother Joseph (under her father's escort) arrived there in Montreal on December 26, 1843.

Small statue of Gamelin outside the chapel

Outside the chapel
Also outside the chapel is a nice tribute to Mother Joseph:

Wandering the halls we found St. Joseph. 
Outside the Cancer center here in the turn around, is a replica of the famous statue of Gamelin that stands in Montreal (where the Sisters of Providence were founded) outside of the Rue Sainte-Catherine exit of the Berri-UQAM Metro Station. It shows her handing out bread to orphans.

Mother Joseph herself felt it was Providence that brought her to Gamelin to continue her work - quotes from the Providence Archive:

One of the things that continues to make Mother Joseph so relatable to me is that she had a pretty intense case of Imposter Syndrome, and worried about her projects. She made the choice to turn it over to God. Some more of Mjs greatest hits from The Providence Archive:

On Valentine's day we decided to go to the Oregon Coast and Astoria for an adventure. It ended up being a day filled with Brick Mojo. I wanted to check out a known haunt, (The "Other" Flavel house in town). There was a church across the street that had a book sale. And where there's a book sale, I'm going in.

Old church was a bonus

One of the places I've not taken a deep dive to quite yet but planned to is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. I specifically have been wanting to find an older book on the Light that had some actual first hand accounts of what the "haunting" inside is like. On the first table I walked to I found this for a buck:

Oh, it gets better. It's signed and was written by one of the Lighthouse Keepers! I felt like I won the lottery. In addition, this particular version (1979) is noted by author James A. Gibbs that the earlier versions of the books used alias names for the other keepers for their privacy as they were still living. This version is the real deal with the keepers' real names used. 

There's a great recent drone video here, where you can see the Hidden Bricks used on the smaller building lower down the rock and around on the grounds, and see what it's looking out there these days. Drone Video by Geist View

I bought this book and a couple more without looking at it, and when I got home that night and read it I realized I hit actual ghost story paydirt. The first night on the rock the author reads old logs about other light houses and realizes there's a patterns of hauntings. After an initial false alarm that involves a goose busting into his quarters, a 10 X 10 foot room, he realizes that Tillamook Light is also haunted:

This is just the entry about his first night arriving on the rock. The author describes how bringing outside life to the rock always ended in failure. Plants wither and die, a dog was brought out to improve morale and mysteriously "disappeared" after being depressed and listless. A cat was brought out for company, but with no rats or rodents to chase it just "up and died one day" (p. 68).

So why is this place so crazy haunted? Well, let's start with the location itself before we even add in Hidden Bricks. Basically the Tillamook Lighthouse was a giant lemon of a building project from the start. 

According to author Mike Helm in his 1983 book, “Oregon’s GHOSTS & Monsters,” Tillamook Rock’s reputation was known to Native Americans. He stated, “They believed it was cursed by their gods, haunted by evil spirits, and they were never known to have approached it.” There are also stories that Native Americans believed the rock was filled with tunnels inhabited by spirits. 

1.2 miles off shore, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is built on under an acre of basalt in the Pacific. Commissioned by US Congress 1878, construction began in 1880 and was plagued with problems, taking 575 days to finish. Standing 134 feet tall, the author describes it on page 5 of "Tillamook Light" as "a pint-sized Alcatraz".  It was decommissioned in 1957 and is currently privately owned. The stone blocks on the outside are more than two feet thick, but the elements on the Pacific are too powerful and the lighthouse was a doomed venture from the beginning. Most of the building is made from stone from the Clackamas, Oregon area, but the Hidden Family history in the Historical Museum confirmed that at least a large portion of these red brick used were Hidden Bricks. 

During the building, a mason working on the lighthouse who had worked on lighthouses in England, John R. Trewaves, was brought in to do a construction survey. On September 18, 1879 he was swept out to sea and drowned doing his work. 

Three weeks before the project's finish (the light was lit January 21, 1881) tragedy struck on January 3. British ship Lupatia (incoming from Japan) was wrecked during a storm and sank, killing all 16 crew members. There was a dog onboard that survived and was adopted by a family in Astoria. Gibbs' book describes the wreck:

"A few of the construction workers who had refused to believe a ship was actually out in the storm, repined in the aftermath of the incident. One, learning of the death of the entire ship's company, was quoted as saying 'If we had only believed our ears. If we had just shouted, made some kind of loud noise...We might have warned them off. It was tough looking at the remains of that ship day after day and realizing that we perhaps could have saved it.'" (p 56.) 

I had my own minor run in with this lighthouse. About 15 years ago I went on a kick where I wanted to travel to all of the Coastal lighthouses around here and visit and photograph them. I took my 1960's Yashica SLR that I inherited from my father and all the lenses with me so I could get some shots of Terrible Tilly. 

This is the second to last shot I took with that camera, from Ecola State park. 

This is the final shot I took with that camera, of Tillamook Light. Upon taking this photo the shutter on my camera stuck shut and the camera will not operate correctly since. I've taken it to two different camera shops and neither of them could seem to figure out what the problem was and I just have had it sitting in my closet since. 

Did a cursed lighthouse break my camera? I don't know, man. I really don't.

Going back to that church book sale for one more fun synchronicity. I picked up another $1 book off of the same table, that looked interesting. Again, didn't do a flip through until later. It was a little rough shape, but also signed... and look who is inside (which is what I was hoping for):

MJ's Brick Mojo Strikes again!
I hadn't even gotten home yet to realize the treasures I had hidden in the books, but I already was having serious "brick mojo" on the rest of the trip. I found a piece of jewelry I was specifically wanting for a great price, and then we headed to Fort Stevens State Park, also a highly haunted and liminal space. 

Instantly upon entering the park I was stunned to see a small herd of elk calmly eating in the middle of the state park. I calmly talked to them and got about five feet away and stopped. They didn't care I was there. 

Of course I had to look up the meaning of when one encounters elk, which was very meaningful for me personally and I just went through a major job transition. 
It was Valentine's Day, so my husband brought me through the woods there by Coffenbury lake, because that's "where he took cute girls to kiss" when he was there as a kid in the summer. 

I got a few snogs and the enjoyed a walk in the area that felt super liminal and magickal that morning. I picked up a bunch of moss, pinecones, etc for my "witch stuff." 

Altar prizes

Magick in the forest

After our walk around the lake, we went out to the Peter Iredale shipwreck on the beach, which was also mentioned in my new book about Tillamook Light. Despite the light, the shipwrecks in the area continued over time. Gibbs' book highlights a few of them, including the Peter Iredale.

Shipwrecks that weren't prevented by Tillamook Light. 

Wreck of the Peter Iredale

And of course, I have no idea where it came from, but out on that beach I swear to you I found a part of a red brick.

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