ON ANGELS' WINGS: Soldano shares his story at the ceremony with his own handiwork draped on the podium.
“Every stitch is a prayer, and the hands creating the shawl are praying for the healing of the shawl’s eventual recipient,” says Rev. Patti Keeler, of the MGH Chaplaincy. Nearly 200 shawls were recently blessed in the MGH Chapel representing a practically infinite amount of prayers for recovery. The shawls were knitted and crocheted by church groups, MGH staff and patients in the hope that each patient or caregiver who received one would find comfort in the shawl’s well-wishes.
A major contributor to the number of shawls blessed this year was Stephen Soldano, who has personally donated more than 700 shawls in the past four years – including 160 at the recent ceremony. The blessing tradition became an important part of Soldano’s life in 2009 following the death of his best friend. That year Soldano crocheted 162 shawls: one for each and every infusion nurse who had cared for his friend during treatments at the MGH Cancer Center. In return, he asked the nurses to give the shawls to patients in need of extra comfort.
Soldano, who is now legally blind, was taught by his mother to crotchet as therapy for progressive blindness. Now, many years and hundreds of thousands of stitches later, Soldano has developed his own unique pattern – when the shawls are draped around wearers, angel wings appear to spread across their shoulders.
Prayer shawl donations have arrived from Virginia, Maine and New Jersey – some of which were given to ICU nurses to provide comfort during the difficult time following the Boston Marathon tragedy.
“There are always more people in need of kindness and peace,” says Katrina Scott, staff chaplain.
Read more articles from the 08/23/13 Hotline issue.