Horse riding photo
Wilcox first became interested in horse riding as a child through the Girl Scouts and has ridden ever since. This photo is of Wilcox riding her horse, Diamond, over a decade ago. She had intended to compete with Diamond only to discover the horse suffered from a serious developmental joint disorder. Instead, Diamond became a broodmare and Wilcox now competes with one of her offspring, a mare named Lily, in dressage competitions.
Microbe plush toys
While visiting a house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in London, one of the nuns politely asked Wilcox if she could give her chlamydia and syphilis. “I knew the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence well enough by then to just respond, ‘Why, of course,’ and just wait to see what the punchline was,” she said. “So, she reached into her purse and pulled out these two little plush toys.” The sister used these toys for her work in sex education, Wilcox said.
Prayer card and condom packets
Shortly after the founding of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, AIDS began appearing in the queer communities of San Francisco, and sex education has been a focus of the sisters ever since. This prayer card, handed out during what the nuns called “Condom Savior Mass,” includes a vow to protect your life and the lives of your partners by using protection. “Most churches were still homophobic at the time,” Wilcox said. “They were getting told AIDS is punishment for your sins, so this was a much more compassionate, in tune with the community approach to salvation.” The sisters still pass out condom packets, along with other educational material and supplies. These packets were designed by the order’s Seattle house.
Certificate of sainthood
People who have dedicated time and energy to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence without becoming a formal member are often recognized with sainthood. Wilcox was sainted by the Las Vegas house, which she said came much to her surprise. During the ceremony, Wilcox had to produce three miracles. “You have to produce fire, you have to walk on water, and you have to be in two places at the same time,” she said. “So, they handed me a lighter, they poured some water on the floor, and then they handed me a mirror.”
“Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk”
One of Wilcox’s favorite possessions is this copy of “Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk,” a famous piece of anti-Catholic propaganda published in the U.S. in the 19th century. Ghostwritten by Protestant ministers, the book claims to be a tell-all autobiography by a woman named Maria Monk who escaped rampant abuse from Catholic priests while in a Montreal convent. “It tells all kinds of really outrageous stories of the horrible things that were supposedly going on in this convent — so outrageous that many of them are unbelievable,” she said. “When I use this book to show students how easy it is to fall for anti-religious propaganda, I have to choose carefully to find stuff they’ll actually fall for, because some of it is really over the top.”