The Cloak of Conscience

A Cloak without sleeves is the basic and most ancient form of a garment. In many religions, it has metaphysical powers. In Zen Buddhism, it symbolizes the Universe and the person wearing it is the axis of the world. In Christianity, the sleeveless garment is the Symbol of Love. The Cloak of Maria is among the most venerated garments on earth. In the Arts, Anna Chromy is the creator who has consistently used the image of the Cloak to spread her Conscience message to the world. Since 1998, a number of Cloaks in bronze and marble have been installed in prime locations throughout World. The largest Cloak is an archi-sculpture, five meters high, in pristine white Carrara marble from the famous Michelangelo quarry, with an interior space for meditation. This unique work, created out of a block of 250 tons, with tissue-like folds reminding us of Bernini and Michelangelo, is the center of the Conscience Net. The white Cloak, like the gown of a priest, a rabbi, an imam, or a monk, alludes to the Unity of all religions and civilizations and the Solidarity between people of all races and faith’.
The Cloak is the symbol of a new era dawning after the Covid-19 pandemic where Empathy will triumph, as so beautifully explained in the article hereunder.

The Power of the Cloak:
Genius loci and Anima Mundi
Symbol of Empathy

In the wake of a series of contagious epidemics, the fourteenth century witnessed the birth of paintings representing the concept of the mantle, or Cloak, of the Mother of Jesus as an impregnable refuge. Images of the ‘Mother of Mercy’ proliferated in succeeding centuries too, in all shapes and sizes; in some, the role of protector was assigned to Saint Sebastian portrayed defending poor unfortunates from a hail of arrows shot by ‘plague angels’.
Famines and deadly viruses continue to threaten the lives of many millions round the globe, often in distant countries far from the hearts and minds of the developed world.
But an artist is, by definition, one who is in deep Empathy with Creation as a whole. It is not surprising, therefore, that Anna Chromy, has, during several years created a work (which since has become the center of her artistic expression), which has become a reference point for many endangered peoples and their cultures.
The ‘Cloak of Conscience’ is an altar to divine mercy and embodies the hope of salvation for a world ever more subjected to disasters of one form or another.
Mindful of the need to go beyond individual religions, the artist transfers an ancient apotropaic gesture, the offer of a cloak, to a figure that transcends, in its universal relevance, this or that religion. Each individual thus becomes the master of his spiritual destiny.
The ‘Cloak of Conscience’ is at the same time a Shield against the evils of the world and a Shelter for the individual soul.
It’s a place of redemption and an unequivocal summons to resurrect the ideal of the brotherhood of men’, an ideal, now more than ever, of vital importance. The unexpected pandemic finds us fragile, unprepared, but it is exactly under this archetypical garment, signed by Anna Chromy, that our individual prayers become the prayers of the community.
Time and again, we have heard alarm bells ringing warning us to inflict less damage to our next and to the planet, and yet we have continued to allow purely material needs to dominate our lives and choices. Now we can no longer act like children playing in a delightful nursery full of toys to take or break: we must grow up.
The austere figure of the ‘The Cloak of Conscience’, situated at just the right distance from our busy world, bending slightly over the emptiness within her, suggests a chrysalis waiting to host whoever wishes to be transformed. In her womb she nourishes a treasure, the procreative force of solitude, till now known to only the few, but now, after our experience of lockdown, made familiar to vast numbers of people. Quarantine has weaned us somewhat of our worldly cares.
Anna Chromy has had the honor to install ‘Cloaks of Conscience’ in countries all over the world. They can be found in locations rich in significance and history where they have espoused the identity of the genius loci, and in some cases received new names. There is, however, one work, sculpted into a 250-ton block of Carrara marble, in, which unite all other Cloaks of the different latitudes and longitudes.
Just as the branches of the Tree of Life, another of Anna Chromy’s iconic works, connect all beings to the sky, so the various ‘Cloaks of Conscience’ around the world are all present in their Carrara marble ‘mother figure’. Through her, they are connected to the origin, the sense of the sacred that has been all but lost to our world.
Each exemplar is a fragment of Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, a projection of the ineffable mystery. Each of them is unique, but at the same time part of a primordial unity to which to return. This is true both for human beings and for these sculptures: they represent the innumerable variations and manifestations of the universal life principle, the Soul of the World.
This is the final identity of the ‘Cloak of Conscience’ in its monumental marble version: a spiritual value, which, though present in the experience of many mystics, goes beyond boundaries, be they cultural, linguistic or religious, and reminds us that the world is one living, pulsating reality in which all its components are interconnected.
The millions of masks now being handed out round the world may well not suffice: stronger, more lasting protection is needed, and this may be found in the Cloak of the eternally Great.

Serena Nannelli

Translated from Italian