Lady Godiva is the most famous benefactor in the history of Coventry. In ancient times an annual feast was held by the Guild of Cappers and Felt-makers on the day of her death - 10 September 1067. It was known as Dame Goodyve’s Daye. After four hundred years this feast has been restored into the calendar of Coventry by our present-day Lady Godiva. This year the Godiva Sisters event will take on Friday 12 September 2008 beginning at 11.30 am in the Priory Gardens. This year a new Polish Sister, played by Stasia Chustecka, will appear for the first time.
In some communities women are expected to remain at home. It is not easy for them to meet other women, who use strange languages, styles and traditions, some of whom they might have been taught to regard with suspicion or even hostility eg Muslims negative approach to Hindus. Such signs of contradiction could lead to increasing conflict. It is certainly not intended that difficulties be hidden away, however, the emphasis on sharing food, on mutual respect and affirmation of each Sister and what she represents, is central to the whole project. There is a growing recognition of the “one human community” which we need to embrace and which includes all of us.
The Godiva Sisters performance includes the appearance on stilts of Olaf Leonhard, an international street performer from Bielefeld in Germany. He is the mythical Phoenix who comes to life from the ashes of fire, just as the city of Coventry was ruined and rebuilt after the bombing in the Second World War on 14 November 1940.
Religious faith plays an important role in the life of almost all these communities. It is integral to their sense of cultural or national identity. Spiritual values and traditions continue to inspire and guide them in our contemporary and secular age. Sometimes religion has seemed to be part of the problem more than it has been part of the solution. Crusades by fundamentalist extremists have muffled Coventry’s message of peace and reconciliation. The Godiva Sisters project and performance proclaims that message in a way that words alone can never do.
We pray that children, women and men may become makers of peace
in a world that is one human community.
Let us befriend those different from ourselves,
be ready to forgive past wrongs and be reconciled,
to share new visions, new love, new hope. (Godiva Sisters Prayer)
John Brassington – Artistic Director for Godiva Sisters