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Iconic Mary statue removed for refurbishing

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For 57 years, a 26-foot gold-leafed statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary has looked over Mount St. Mary’s University, the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and people traveling on Route 15 near Emmitsburg. But in preparing to regild the golden statue this spring, university officials discovered that the interior structural steel supports were corroded and needed to be refurbished significantly. The golden statue was temporarily removed from its perch atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile July 7 for refurbishment.  

“The Blessed Mother has watched over campus with her motherly heart and offered hope to millions,” said Timothy E. Trainor, university president. “Now it is our turn to care for her image and ensure that her beacon of faith and hope shines for future generations.” 

Big Hook Crane and Rigging, which performs the annual lift for the May crowning of Mary, executed the lift and secured the statue to a trailer for transport and storage in advance of restoration. 

Originally commissioned in 1964 from the noted Italian sculptor Marcello Tommasi, the sculpture was cast from a full-size plaster model in Pietresanta, Italy, and was transported to Baltimore by boat and then to Emmitsburg by truck. At the time of the dedication of the Pangborn Memorial Campanile May 1, 1964, the statue was believed to be the largest ever imported to the United States in a single piece. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021