• Hannah Perry

Refurbishments for the Mother of Our Mountain

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s tall statue overlooking Mount St. Mary’s University has been removed for refurbishment. The Blessed Mother has been a beacon of faith and hopes to millions of people. When one walks or drives by, they might wonder “where is She?”

For about 35 years, Our Lady’s statue has not been refurbished on its exterior, which is made of a gold leaf. The gold leaf wore off because it was a thin application, and the weather and harsh sun started to wear it away. The administration decided that it was time for Her to be regilded.

The Mount conducted a campaign to raise funds for her regilding and hundreds of donors generously donated $200,000 needed to refurbish Her surface. When the construction crew visited the statue this past spring, they found a bit of rust. When they investigated where the rust was coming from, it turned out that Her interior had somewhat corroded and needed to be restored. Big Hook Crane and Rigging, a Union Bridge, Md. company, executed the lift and secured the statue to a flatbed trailer for transportation to Virginia.

Dawn Walsh, the Director of the National Shire Grotto, decided that refurbishment was necessary. She commented that Our Lady was starting to look poorly and that it had been long enough. The Grotto received many different inquiries, saying the lighting on Her was not good because She did not appear to be as shiny as She used to. As they investigated other things, they realized that it was the fact that She was becoming dull from the weather.

“We do not yet have dates for the completion of the refurbishment, but right now we hope that the interior refurbishment will be completed and that She will be back on site by the end of the calendar year,” Wash said. The plan is to put Her back up on top of the Campanile and regild Her on top. Regilding on site was considered, but if they happened, She would be harmed when they harnessed Her to put Her back up. However, they already have the scaffolding in place when the time comes for the regilding process.

Chaplin of the University, Rev. Martin Moran is happy that the restoration is taking place. Similarly, Brendan Johnson, the Assistant Director for Campus Ministry and Social Justice said, “I think that in some ways it is a metaphor for the Mount that we are undergoing a lot of changes right now, trying to clean up a lot of old things and out of date so that we can better serve our students. Our Lady’s statue who looks over us needs a bit of work inside too.”

The Blessed Mother’s statue is not the first statue to undergo refurbishment. The National Shrine Grotto had a donor who contributed to have the two guardian angels at the forefront restored, which people on campus completed. Our campus painters repainted them. The Grotto had a company from Pennsylvania come down and fix Our Lady of Lourdes. It repainted Her and put gold leaf on Her trim. It also restored Our Lady of La Vang, a Vietnamese image completed two weeks ago. On Sept. 15, it had a statue of St. Michael installed up in the Grotto.