As part of its rememberence and ministry around HIV/AIDS, the Washington National Cathedral is hosting eight panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt including notable panels "The Last One" and the St. George's Cathedral panel now through July 26. DC is hosting the 19th annual International AIDS Conference July 22-27.
"The Last One" has been rarely displayed in public. According to a press release, it was “conveyed for use by the NAMES Project in 1987 without any information or instruction from its creators but a message that remains unmistakable. The panel is both a quiet prayer and a stark reminder of all that we are working to achieve in the battle against HIV/AIDS."
The St. George panel was blessed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on June 22 in Cape Town, South Africa before makings its journey to Washington, D.C.
"The importance of a quilt of this nature is to humanize those who have HIV and AIDS. For the world they may just be statistics, but for each fellow countryman and woman, for each in the family, and each amongst the neighbors and the friends, they are very important people," remarked South African Ebrahim Ambassador Rasool.
This is not the first time the AIDS memorial quilt has come to the Cathedral. It hosted the quilt and held services around it in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, and 1996, according to a press release. This year marks the quilt’s 25th anniversary.
The Right Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, retired bishop of Washington, pro tempore,
Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the U.S., Julie Rhoad, executive director of the NAMES Project Foundation, Rev. Gina Campbell, Cathedral director of worship, and Rev. Dr. Francis Wade, interim dean for the National Cathedral, blessed the St. George's panel in a short ceremony Wednesday.
Rasool said he hoped the blessing placed on the quilt will be conferred on the AIDS 2012 conference, "that it may be free of rancor, free of stigma, free of anything that dehumanizes."
The Cathedral is hosting an interfaith memorial service Saturday, July 21, at 7 p.m. The panels are on display through Thursday, July 26.