A traveling historic statue of the Virgin Mary-the world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima-will make a couple of stops in the local area this week, including Our Lady of Mercy Church in Lowell Wednesday and St. Mary School in Marietta Thursday.
"The statue has been seen around the world, and even in communist countries," said Jane Garvey of Marietta, one of the organizers for the statue's local visits, which included St. Mary's Catholic Church in Marietta earlier this month.
"We had a great turnout," she said. "And as far as I know this is the first time the statue has been in the local area in recent years."
This statue of the Virgin Mary—the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, sculpted in Portugal in 1947—can be seen at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Lowell on Wednesday, and at St. Mary School Thursday.
Sculptor Jose Thedim created the original statue in 1947, based on the description of a woman named Sister Lucia, who was one of three young "seers" to whom the Virgin is said to have appeared once a month in 1917, from May through October, in Fatima, Portugal.
Garvey said demand to see the statue was so great in Portugal that Thedim created two more identical sculptures, one of which came into the U.S.
"It's entirely carved out of mahogany and has been painted an ivory color," Garvey said. "It has a cloak and a crown and is just beautiful. When you see it there's a great feeling, knowing this is representative of the Blessed Mother's appearance back in 1917."
If you go
Local schedule for the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima:
Wednesday, noon to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 5001 Lowell Hill Road, Lowell.
Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary School, 320 Marion St., Marietta.
Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Stephen's Church, 1036 Belford St., Caldwell.
For information, visit the International Pilgrim Virgin website at www.pilgrimvirginstatue.com
Since 1947 the approximately 4-foot-high statue has been seen in more than 100 countries, including Russia and Red China, bringing a great message of hope, "the peace plan from heaven," to millions of people, according to the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue web site at www.pilgrimvirginstatue.com.
The peace plan is a call for prayer and penance to be offered in reparation for sin.
Miracles have also reportedly occurred in the statue's presence, and many people say they've witnessed the sculpture weeping.
Carl Malburg, who's been a custodian of the statue, traveling with the icon for more than 20 years now, said the core message for those who see the sculpture is one of encouraging prayer, personal atonement and growing closer to God.
"We have received many testimonials from people who tell us they have been healed or received other blessings after seeing the statue, and we don't want to play those down in any way, but we feel our focus is on reminding people to stay close to God," he said.
Malburg noted the initial appearance of the Virgin to the three children in 1917 coincided with World War I, and the sculpture was created in 1947, just after WWII, but wars continue to this day, making "the peace plan from heaven" message as pertinent as ever.
"There's a real sense of urgency that we need the Blessed Mother to pray for us-we need God to get involved for us today," Malburg said. "Our focus is to help people get back to God and the commandments."