Bishop Whipple’s Legacy Lives On in Central Park

June 23, 2020

Earlier this month, the Mural Society of Faribault finished a project several years in the making; a mural featuring the first Episcopal bishop in Minnesota, Bishop Henry Whipple.

Besides being integral to the history of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, Whipple was also an important part of Faribault’s history, from his work with establishing the Episcopal Church in Minnesota to his relationship with Native Americans.

The Mural Society of Faribault often looks for new ideas throughout Faribault’s history, and raise the funds through an annual event called the Recycled Art Sale. When the society voted on Whipple as the subject of the next mural, member Karen Winslow began doing research at SSM for old photos, with the help of former SSM Director of Marketing & Communications, Amy Wolf. Amy compiled a short biography of Whipple to use in the mural to maintain historical accuracy.

The panels of the mural include a portrait of Whipple, portraits of his two wives, Cornelia and Evangeline, and a depiction of Whipple’s relationship with Native Americans. The mural was painted by local artist Dave Correll and was installed on Central Park’s bandshell on June 12th.

The text in Bishop Whipple’s portrait gathered from staff at Shattuck-St. Mary’s states: 

“The Right Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple was 37 years old when he was consecrated the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota on Oct. 13, 1859. He spent the next 42 years establishing Episcopal parishes throughout Minnesota. He guided the founding of education and training of clergy and with his wife, Cornelia, founded St. Mary’s Hall for girls. In 1862 he laid the cornerstone for the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the first cathedral to be constructed in the American Episcopal Church. The Bishop and Cornelia raised six children in Faribault. Following Cornelia’s death in 1890, the Bishop married Evangeline Marrs Simpson in 1896, who continued to support the Bishop’s work before and after his death on Sept. 16, 1901 at age 79. His funeral at the Cathedral one block east of this location) drew more than 1000 people, among them a host of Native Americans and the first Native American to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. Throughout his life, he was an advocate for the rights of Native Americans and was known among them as “Straight Tongue.”

A tribute to the Bishop from the people of Minnesota is enshrined on the base of the Cathedral’s bell tower: ‘This tower is the Thanksgiving of many People for Henry Benjamin Whipple, first Bishop of Minnesota, and is the Symbol before [humanity] of the supreme Value of a Righteous Man.’”