Artboard 1 apply Artboard 1 copy 2 Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB give Artboard 1 copy 3 info link Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Artboard 1 Artboard 2 Artboard 1 visit

Statue of Blessed Mother, a Regional Landmark, Removed for Refurbishment

Donna Klinger

golden mary feature

After being lifted from her perch atop the Pangborn Memorial Campanile for refurbishment, the crew gently eased the Blessed Mother statue on to a truck for transport.

For 57 years, the 26-foot gold-leafed statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary overlooking Mount St. Mary’s University has been a brightly shining beacon of faith and hope to the university community, millions of visitors at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and people traveling on Route 15 or flying overhead. Today the golden statue of the Blessed Mother was temporarily removed from her perch atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile for refurbishment.

mary-lift-1-in-text.jpg“The Blessed Mother has watched over campus with her motherly heart and offered hope to millions,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “Now it is our turn to care for her image and ensure that her beacon of faith and hope shines for future generations.”

In preparing to regild the golden statue of the Blessed Mother this spring, university officials discovered that the statue’s interior structural steel supports are corroded and need to be significantly refurbished.

The university engaged ADTEK Engineers Inc., a structural engineering firm located in Frederick, Maryland, and Big Hook Crane and Rigging, a Union Bridge, Maryland company that provides hoisting and rigging services, to work on the project. Big Hook, 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.

mary-lift-2a-in-text.jpgOriginally 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 on May 1, 1964, the statue was believed to be the largest ever imported to the United States in a single piece. The De Ranieri Studios of Detroit supervised the work in Italy and in the U.S. The Pangborn Foundation and its chairman, Thomas W. Pangborn, Hagerstown, Maryland, industrialist and philanthropist, donated the statue.

Visible for miles, the memorial is located at the entrance to the mary-lift-3-in-text.jpgNational Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at the site of the old Church of St. Mary, also known as the Church on the Hill, which was erected in 1805 by the university’s founder, the Rev. John Dubois, and the place of worship for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Erection of the memorial was managed by Monsignor Hugh J. Phillips, then director and chaplain of the National Shrine Grotto and later president of the university.

According to local legend, Dubois built his church on the hillside so that people in the valley would look up, see the cross and the Blessed Mother and keep the faith. “This campanile perpetuates the holy purpose of the founder,” stated the program for the dedication ceremony of the memorial.

mary-near-ground-in-text.jpg“May Our Lady long continue to fulfill this holy purpose,” said Dawn Walsh, director of the National Shrine Grotto. “While the Blessed Mother statue is away from the mountain, we will continue to welcome many thousands a year as a place of worship, pilgrimage, conversion and reconciliation.”

About Mount St. Mary’s University

Mount St. Mary’s University, founded in 1808, is a private, liberal arts, Catholic university in the Catoctin Mountains near historic Emmitsburg, Maryland, with a satellite campus in Frederick, Maryland’s second largest city. The university offers more than 80 majors, minors, concentrations and special programs for traditional undergraduate students, and more than 20 adult undergraduate and graduate level programs as well as 24 NCAA Division I athletic teams. The Mount includes Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, the second oldest in the United States, and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, an idyllic shrine for spiritual reflection located on the hill above the university.

Donna Klinger