A Lampedusa Cross – hand-carved from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats, is being displayed in the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester from 27 June. Visitors are invited to visit the cross and write messages of hope to show solidarity with refugees across the world.
The Lampedusa Cross are handmade crosses carved by an Italian carpenter, Francisco Tuccio. He was inspired to create the crosses after an incident in 2013, where a boat capsized off the coast of the small Italian Island of Lampedusa; 311 people perished and 155 others were saved by the residents of Lampedusa. Pope Francis carried one of the crosses at a memorial service in Lampedusa. The British Museum acquired a Lampedusa cross for display in its collection in November 2015. It was the last acquisition by Neil MacGregor before he retired as Museum Director; he said:
“This simple yet moving object is a poignant gift to the collection. […] In my time at the Museum we have acquired many wonderful objects, from the grand to the humble, but all have sought to shine a light on the needs and hopes that all human beings share.”
Co-curator of Dorset County Museum, Felicity Hebditch, heard about the Lampedusa Cross at a CAFOD volunteer day. Felicity was inspired by doing the pilgrimage and how Neil MacGregor had acquired a Cross for the British Museum. She suggested that the Dorset Museum could house one of the crosses for a month and it could be a place for schools and parishes to end their pilgrimages by actually visiting the cross.
Simon Giarchi, CAFOD representative for Dorchester said:
“Many of us feel the same sentiment that the carpenter Francesco Tuccio has spoken of, that feeling of ‘what can I do to make a difference?’
“He felt helpless in being able to give anything and so chose to make the crosses as a symbol of solidarity. Seeing the Lampedusa cross and knowing it came from a boat on which so many died trying to reach safety is an incredibly moving experience.”
The Lampedusa Cross will be available to view in the Dorset County Museum from the 27 June until the end of July.