In honor of Mother’s Day, a spotlight is pointed at the statue entitled ‘La Carita’, which is Italian for love, located in the BYUH art hallway. The statue’s history dates back to the mid 1900s.
The plaque below the statue is difficult to read and has eroded from the Hawaiian weather. It reads: “The group portrays the relationship of mother and children in trusting response to affectionate devotion and tender care. The sculptor was Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1856). He is said to have restored to sculpture that faithfulness in life which those who preceded him had lost. Professor Oreste Andriene obtained special permission of the Italian Government to unseal the underground room in which the Bartolini models had been walled up supposedly forever, and to use these models for study and reproduction. The original ‘La Carita’ is now in the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy.”
Mark James, a TESOL and linguistics professor, said he recently realized the art courtyard hasn’t been well cared for. He said, “Most of the courtyards have been under renovations, but this one has remained untouched. Two fingers are missing from the statue and it looks like it was a recent vandalization.
“One of the things I’ve never liked is that no one upkeeps the garden right behind the statue. It’s always full of ragged weeds. Instead of glorious motherhood, we are looking at neglected motherhood on a campus where it should be recognized better. Motherhood is essential to the whole concept of the gospel. In honor of Mother's Day, we should pay attention to it.”
James explained the background of the statue and how it got all the way from Italy to BYUH campus. “The huge piece of ground at Kakela Beach was owned by the Castle family. Most people don’t know ‘kakela’ is Hawaiian for castle.”
According to James, the Castle family originally came to Oahu as early Protestant missionaries. Their children married Hawaiian royalty and gained access to thousands of acres of land. “Each child inherited massive pieces of land and became rich. James Bicknell Castle and Matilda White Castle were the main missionaries with land on the windward side of the island,” James said.
“Most people have seen pictures of James Bicknell Castle's big mansion in Waikiki called ‘Kainalu.’ It was on the Diamond Head side of the Moana Surfrider Hotel and was the biggest home in Waikiki. It no longer exists, but you can Google pictures of it.
“What people often don't know is that [James Bicknell Castle] once owned all of Kaneohe and Kailua, which was known as the Kaneohe Ranch. The Castle Family Trust still owns much of the land in the Kailua town center. They also donated the land upon which the Castle Hospital sits and also Castle High School.
“Even fewer people know that he had a weekend mansion at Kakela Beach, which is now called Kokololio Beach Park, between here and Hau’ula. The mansion is long gone, but the original stone walls along Kam Highway are still there.”
The mansion was torn down in the mid 50s or 60s, James estimated, around the time the LDS Church acquired the land. The estate was termite-ridden and couldn’t be salvaged. “The only surviving piece of the mansion is a lion head from the stairway, and it’s actually located in the BYUH archives in the library. The statue of ‘Love’, which most call ‘motherhood,’ was in the yard of the estate,” said James. It was brought to Laie in 1964 and placed exactly where it stands today.
“Mrs. Castle bought the statue while on vacation in Florence, Italy and had it shipped to their estate,” explained James.
The Kakela Beach property has been part of the community since the 60s and is one of the main places for ward camps, said James. “For 50 to 60 years, it’s had a great impact on the community. At one point the church sold it to the city of Honolulu, but local wards contacted the Hawaii State Park Association to reserve it,” said James.
Fa’aea Maiva, a political science junior from Samoa, said she first saw the statue while looking for one similar to the sculpture behind the temple for a class. “When I came across the statue, I wanted to know more about it, but I couldn't even read the caption on the plaque below it. Someone should look into fixing it up,” she said.
Maiva said it’s sad to see the neglect of the statue. “Since the statue is really old, you can see it has withstood time. Even in this age where the word ‘mother’ has been altered and the role of mothers is so different today, it makes it more meaningful to me,” she said.
“It reminds me of my own mother. Now that she’s the only parent I have, it makes me grateful for all she does for my siblings and me. We don’t have much, and she still provides for us,” said Maiva. “No matter what we go through and no matter how hard life is, mothers are there. I’m grateful I have my mother and am so sad for those who have lost their mothers.”
Alice Leung, a social science senior from Samoa, said she has seen the statue but never really paid attention to it. “Now that I understand the story behind it, it’s a good reminder for students to remember our mothers, especially those who are far from their families. Most students are here because of their parents, so we should honor our mothers,” she said.
Leung said the loss of her father has made her appreciate her mother so much more. “I get emotional thinking of my parents because I often forget the sacrifices they made for me to come to school here. Since my mother is the only parent I have left, the least I can do is call and check up on her. The statue is also a good reminder that families are forever, and it helps me to keep that in mind,” she said. “My mother is the reason I made it this far.”
Construction and Facilities staff members said they are currently working on fixing the statue. All inquiries should be sent to Eric Conrad, vice president of Construction and Facilities, at email@example.com.