Artemisia Bowden, the namesake of the University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW) Bowden Eye Care and Health Center serving San Antonio’s Eastside, has been elevated to the standing of a Holy Woman in the Episcopal Church. Bowden, a local civic leader and pioneer for education who served as president of St. Phillip’s College for 52 years, is the first individual from the Diocese of West Texas to earn this distinction. Bowden’s feast day is Aug. 18.
During the summer, the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, authorized adding Bowden’s name to the liturgical calendar in “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.” In the Episcopal Church, individuals selected are called Holy Women or Holy Men, similar to saints in the Catholic Church. In recognition of Bowden’s new status in the Episcopal Church, a celebration is planned for Nov. 20 at St. Philip’s College.
During the Great Depression, Bowden campaigned to have St. Phillip’s College incorporated into San Antonio Independent School District’s (SAISD) junior college system, virtually saving the school in the midst of tremendous hardship. She served as president of the San Antonio Metropolitan Council of Negro Women and was the founder and president of the city’s Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club. Bowden was named to the Texas Commission on Interracial Relations in 1947. The National Council of Negro Women cited her as one of the 10 most outstanding women educators in the U.S.