Photo courtesy of Visitation Sisters, Brooklyn, New York, and Wikimedia.
There has been a lot of destruction of statues throughout the country this summer, but one statue’s preservation seems to show how God regards his holy friends.
A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a Visitation Sisters’ garden in Brooklyn remained untouched amid the fierce tropical storm winds of Isaias on Aug. 4.
The Visitation Sisters are referring to their “miracle statue,” which was missed by several feet by two falling pine tree limbs that were three inches thick each.
“Thanks be to God that our statue was spared the storm’s destruction,” stated Sr. Susan Marie, the Sisters’ superior. “We take it as a sign from God of his providence.”
Holy Objects - To Be Venerated
While the Sisters’ statue seemed to be a sign from God, the destruction of statues throughout the country has disturbed many. The toppling of statues of St. Junipero Serra in California has been among the victims of the anarchy that has been sweeping our land.
The despising of holy objects is nothing new in our world that is fallen through Original Sin. The iconoclasm of the eighth and ninth centuries involved the destruction of religious paintings and statues by fellow Christians as well as outsiders in the Eastern Church.
In the 1790s, during the French Revolution, the cathedral of Notre Dame suffered desecration. Much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.
If we could only convince the maddening crowds that our religious statues play a vital role in our lives and that of society, and should be venerated. The Catholic Catechism states that, “By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new ‘economy’ of images” (CCC 2131).
It also states, “The honor paid to sacred images is a ‘respectful veneration,’ not the adoration due to God alone” (CCC 2132).
The Church’s Code of Canon Law says that “true and authentic veneration” of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the other saints “instructs the Christian faithful and whose intercession sustains them.” (Canon 1186)
Strong Church Leaders
Some of the hierarchy have shown themselves to be true leaders in response to today’s iconoclasm. One of them is Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco. On June 19, he led a group of the faithful to Golden Gate Park to pray, make reparation, and perform an exorcism at the site where a statue of Junipero Serra was knocked down. He said,
“I’ve been feeling great distress and a deep wound in my soul when I see these horrendous acts of blasphemy … and disparaging of the memory of Serra, who was such a great hero, such a great defender of the indigenous people of this land…”
Statue Sends a Message
The statue in the Visitation Sisters’ garden seems to send a message about the need to publicly proclaim holiness and virtue in public places throughout the country. Although the Sisters’ statues are in an enclosed garden in this cloistered community, there are many religious statues and depictions of the Ten Commandments in the country that are fitting reminders that public witness of devotion to God is important to a stable moral order.
The Sisters noted that the storm hit on the eve of the feast of the Church’s Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, a church in Rome erected to honor Mary, the Mother of God.
Check it out - a blog post and photos of the statue can be seen on the Visitation Sisters’ Monastery website.