A few years ago while Scott & I attended the Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, I caught site of a man carrying a canvas image of Our Blessed Mother. He was walking quite briskly, obviously with a destination in mind. I was only able to see the image briefly but I knew when I saw it, that I just had to have that image in our home. The memory of that image stayed on my mind & I knew I’d have to look it up later.
That afternoon while I was aimlessly walking the halls where the vendors were selling their wares, I happened to see “her” again. She was leaning against the backdrop behind this particular art vendor – there were other frames covering her but the small glimpse I caught was enough to rekindle that memory. I knew exactly what I was looking at! Had I not looked in that direction as I walked by, I would have missed her completely!
The vendor explained that the original painting was named “L’Innocence” & the artist was William-Adolphe Bouguereau. I bought the replica immediately for a little over a hundred dollars – I would have paid more if I’d had to. I was so drawn to that image!
Our house was under construction at that time but I knew she’d have a special, prominent place in our home. You can see her here, above our fireplace right next to our Sacred Heart icon and other statuettes near & dear to our hearts.
A few weeks ago our church held it’s annual Fall Fest & a silent auction was held in our parish hall. I had the opportunity to check out the items offered early because I was set up to face paint outside & I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to bid on anything if I waited.
When I walked in the hall I immediately spotted a beautiful, hand-made grotto which held a gorgeous statue of Our Blessed Mother. Overwhelmed with the same feeling I had at the Eucharistic Congress years ago, I contemplated what to do. I had to have this to display on our property! I put the first bid in high & left to tend to my booth where children were already waiting to have their faces painted!
My husband arrived later that afternoon as he was at one of his week-end formation classes. I told him how I felt about the grotto I’d bid on but I was too busy with the kids to talk to him about how important the grotto was to me. I later found out that one person had bid over me but Scott was the last bidder. We happily drove home with our new grotto!
Today I finally made time to get out & fix up an area fit for her on our property. Although we have about 18 acres of land, there are very few areas where I could put her & display her properly. I settled for a small corner right by the gate to the entrance to our house. Scott picked a special prayer which we prayed & he sprinkled her with Holy water. Hopefully soon we’ll have her blessed “officially” by a Deacon or Priest. I’ll also have some bushes moved around so we can see her better but right now, I think she’s right where she belongs!
To most Catholics,having a grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary or a beautiful image above their fireplace is nothing out of the ordinary considering our devotion to Our Blessed Mother. However, for me this is really extraordinary. I wasn’t raised Catholic – as a matter of fact, devotion to Mary was frowned upon in my home. We wrongly believed that Catholics worshipped Mary. Today I know better and as I grow in my faith, I feel a spiritual pull towards her & her incredible “powers”. All she wants to do is to point us towards her Son. What an awesome mother she is!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death!