In the basement of St. Francis Xavier College Church on the campus of Saint Louis University stands a statue of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus.
Cut from plain white stone, the statue stands smaller-than-life on a pedestal across from a small chapel. It bears some obvious signs of age: the fingers on the child’s hand, extended in blessing, have eroded away, and the corner of Mary’s lips displays a darkened blemish. It appears, on first sight, rather unremarkable.
Unremarkable, that is, until one learns its place in the history of the school.
“Today, I don’t get the impression that many know the story or know the history of the statue when they walk past it in the vestibule of the Lady Chapel at College Church,” Fr. David Suwalsky, S.J., head of the Department of Theological Studies at SLU, and a historian, told CNA.
A bronze plaque across from the chapel chronicles the statue’s story. The plaque explains the role the statue played for the university in a time of crisis — a crisis averted, some say, due to Our Lady’s intercession and the prayers of the community. A story of prayer amid pestilence, it is an episode of history worth recalling amid the spread of the coronavirus.
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