NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A religious woman who died in Woonsocket nearly a century ago is still having an impact on people in Rhode Island and around the world.
Half an oak tree in North Providence might look like it’s just covered in tarp, but to Ed Goodhart, it’s a blank canvas for his next piece of art. He had just finished carving the bottom half of the same oak tree into a statue that will soon end up in a local museum.
“My heart tells my head ‘you’ve got to make a statue,’ so my head tells my hands how to make the statue once it comes up with the idea and I do it like that,” Goodhart explained.
As a boilermaker his entire life, Goodhart worked with tough materials while welding steel and iron. Although he is retired, he is using the skill he learned to tap into his natural artistic ability and carve wood statues.
“It’s kind of my niche because when I was doing it, my mind was somewhere else, I would lose track of time,” Goodhart said. “I could do this for the church, for my religion, and it doesn’t bother me.”
Goodhart says he does all of this for free which might make one question why he would spend 629 hours carving this woman he didn’t know.
Years ago, Goodhart says he was inspired to create a statue of his great-great-uncle Saint Andre Bessette of Montreal.
“Was canonized a saint in 2010. And I took the statue to Canada. It’s in the museum at the Oratory that he’s responsible for building,” Goodhart said.
In the early 1900s, the then-Brother Andre Bessette visited Little Rose Ferron, a bedridden young woman in Woonsocket, whose deep spirituality is believed by some to cause miracles.
Goodhart learned about Little Rose through this connection and with the help of the foundation in her name, he carved Little Rose’s likeness.
“I have so much,” Goodhart said. “This is just some of the stuff.”
The statue will be house at the Rose Ferron Foundation of Rhode Island Museum and Domestic Chapel on Arnold Street in Woonsocket.
President David Ethier showed the hundreds of mementos saved from Rose’s life, depicting her deep suffering as a bedridden young woman.
“Little Rose suffered a lot. And at this time, I was suffering. And Little Rose taught me about suffering. The importance of what it was all about,” Ethier said.
Ethier said Little Rose attracted the faithful from around the world when it’s believed she would experience the passion of Christ every Friday — bleedings from her hands, feet, and head as if she wore Jesus’ crown of thorns.
Little Rose’s memory is kept alive by the museum, books, and now Goodhart’s statue.