AVON — St. Mary of the Woods Senior Living and Rehabilitation welcomed a visit from what many in the Roman Catholic Church consider an international symbol of peace.
The International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was taken to St. Mary of the Woods on Wednesday morning, where it remained on display at the center’s chapel. The statue was sculpted in 1947 by Jose Thedim in accordance with the description of the Virgin Mary, who was reportedly seen by three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
The children described the apparition as Mary, the mother of Jesus, saying that Mary gave the message of peace, warning the world of a future war should people not pray and atone for their sins.
The message was referred to by the Catholic Church as the “Peace Plan from Heaven,” according to Carl Malburg, one of two custodians of the statue who accompanied it to St. Mary of the Woods.
Malburg discussed the history of the statue prior to a rosary ceremony at the chapel Wednesday afternoon. He told those in attendance that the appearance of the Virgin Mary predicted the end of World War I, but also the beginning of a larger war if people did not amend their ways.
“She was predicting World War II,” Malburg said. “The second war was worse than the first, just as she predicted.”
Since 1947, the Pilgrim Statue, which was blessed by Pope Pius XII, has been traveling across the world, spreading the message of peace.
The Pilgrim Statue has been known to bring miracles to those it visits, according to Patrick Sabat, who began accompanying the statue from the Philippines.
Sabat said a blind priest in India was able to see after a visit to the statue. The statue also has been reported to shed tears on numerous occasions.
Robin Hanna, life enrichment director at St. Mary of the Woods, said residents were excited for the visit. Hanna said the center was contacted to see if they would be interested in housing the Pilgrim Statue for the day.
The statue has made several stops around the Cleveland area, and it paid a visit to Calvary Cemetery on Saturday. It will stop in Brunswick, Norton and Ashland before heading off to Detroit.
Natalie Hughes, a resident of St. Mary of the Woods, said she was looking forward to seeing the famous statue. Hughes is a practicing Catholic, and she said she believes the meaning behind the statue — the message of peace and prayer — should be taken to heart.
“I thought it was a privilege that the statue was brought here,” she said. “It reminds us of the Blessed Mother.”