Monument Square’s “Our Lady of Victory” Monument’s History
Monday's Memorial Day parade will begin in Longfellow Square and end with a ceremony on Monument Square at the feet of "Our Lady of Victories", the monument that inspired the name of the square. I see her every day from the WBLM studio windows, but I know nothing about her. The base of the monument reads, "Portland, to her sons who died for the Union". It was 1873, just 7 years after Portland's Great Fire devastated the city, that an association formed to erect a monument to honor of the 5,000 Portland soldiers and sailors who were enrolled during the Civil War. That was a sixth of the population of Portland at the time, a huge sacrifice. More than 300 of our Union soldiers died. The same sculptor that created the Longfellow Memorial, Franklin Simmons, was commissioned to create the piece. Simmons was a Maine native and a very famous sculptor. He cast Our Lady in his studio in Italy.
What is she wearing? This striking lady is 14 feet tall and cast in bronze wearing armor and robes. She was modeled after Minerva, the goddess of war and wisdom. "Victory" is wearing a crown of leaves and holds a sword wrapped in a flag in her right hand and a branch of maple leaves and a shield in her left hand.
"Victory" is meant to be a symbol of unity. There are bronze figures on two sides, one representing the Army, the other the Navy.
I love the plaque on the granite base.
I plan to bring Our Lady Victory flowers on Monday.