Spirit Daily


Survival of Statues During Disasters Shows A Special Anointing, Not Idolatry

There is a lot of confusion about statues. Our non-Catholic brethren often confuse them with idolatry, but idolatry is the worship of demon-gods, images that portray something evil, something that is half-man, half-beast (think ancient Egypt, with those jackal-headed creatures, or ancient Babylon). Images of heavenly things are not idolatry (no more than a family photo is), and God Himself ordered creation of the Ark -- which included the images of angels.

Christian statues are not idolatrous. Their purpose is to glorify God.

"You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat," God Himself orders in Exodus 25:18.

Moreover, there is this stark fact: in case after case, on a regular basis, around the world, are accounts of holy images that have survived disasters against all odds, inexplicably. It's like God extends His Presence (and with it His protection) to that which honors His Kingdom; when Christian statues are employed He knows that the heart is directed toward Heaven.

The list is endless. During World War II, air raids almost completely destroyed a chapel at St. Kolumba Church in Cologne enshrining an image of Mary, but one pedestal was left standing. It was the one supporting the image. In 2002 an F-5 tornado tore apart a Catholic school and an attached chapel in LaPlata, Maryland, but spared a statue of Mary. Just a year ago, when Hurricane Charley devastated a church in Punta Gorda, Florida, the Blessed Sacrament survived, along with a still-flickering  candle.

"This is a picture [left] taken after a fire in Jennings, Louisiana," notes one of our viewers. "An elderly couple died in the home but this Crucifix was left untouched. The fire chief showed me this picture taken after the tragedy. I talked to the nephew and he said it was true and correct. I asked him if it was still gold as shown in the picture and he said yes -- no soot. I talked to one of the firefighters and he said the fire was very intense when they arrived at the scene."

No soot -- in a fire that otherwise blanketed everything?

During last year's Asian tsunami, famous were the cases in which statues or other relics survived the horrid inundation. In one case a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Infant was swept out to sea, only to return atop a pile of debris, the crown still on the Infant's head!

That was in Sri Lanka (at the Shrine of Our Lady of Matara), while here in the U.S., in Colchester, Connecticut, a statue survived even though the church was destroyed in an explosion that was heard five miles away and scattered debris over a huge area.

After tornadoes and other storms are countless reports of other holy objects such as Bibles remaining intact. That happened in Kissimmee, Florida, while it was a statue in Flint, Michigan that made it through the direct hit of a twister. "The windows shattered outward and our roof was blown off the house," said Patricia Maciak, the survivor of one home that was blown apart during the storm. "We had no furniture left except for a small uneven table that had a Mary statue on it, which was still intact."

No one doubts that a Bible is holy, and so we can infer the same thing for Christian statues. When the former Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Marion, Indiana, burned on a spring Sunday in 1995, one of the few pieces of the structure left standing was a mosaic of the Virgin of Guadalupe!

"Approximately six years ago there was a terrible fire at Ephatha House, a house of prayer near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada," notes a reader named Louise Mallaghan. "Anyway, the prairie fire was heading straight for this house. The priest there took out a statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and faced the fire with it. That was the end of the fire and the house was not touched. Also, one of the firefighters in a large CAT was mowing down trees in an effort to prevent the fire from spreading. He was going to mow down the stations of the cross on the hill amongst the trees too. The priest yelled at him to halt but he continued to move forward and suddenly, the CAT stopped dead and he couldn't proceed."

The original statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is at an Ursuline convent in New Orleans and has been credited with halting a fire that destroyed much of the French Quarter more than a century ago.

In this time of spiritual warfare, many are those who are spreading holy images around their homes and yards. Does spreading medals along with blessed salt help? We should sanctify our homes. Of late, we have been recommending a new St. Benedict Crucifix as protection. We know from exorcisms that demons detest crosses, relics, and holy statues. Why else would those with evil spirits vandalize them -- and why would the demon detest them?

Is a Crucifix or statue all we need? Of course not. Prayer, purity, and fasting are the key forces for protection. But statues associated with Jesus declare that our hearts are with Him.

Anything holy has an anointing. During the tsunami, witnesses inside a church said the wave seemed to split and go around both sides of the building. All 300 people who had taken shelter inside the church survived in a town that saw virtually total devastation.

Do statues always survive fires? No. And during hurricanes, churches are damaged. We can never determine how God works. He Himself decides where and when to send signs.

"A bolt of lightning that lit up Calais Avenue and shook the ground early Saturday morning is being blamed for a fire that destroyed the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church," said a report on July 25 from a town near Bangor, Maine. "Shortly after midnight, a severe thunderstorm rumbled through the area. Lightning lit up the sky. 'I did hear the strike,' City Manager Linda Pagels said as she surveyed the aftermath of the fire at the church on Saturday. 'It felt like all of Calais Avenue trembled.'"

Flames raced across the roof. "There was fire, a lot of fire," said one awestruck witness.

"All I could see was this huge furnace [of flames] coming out of the roof of the church," neighbor Becky Lacasse said. "It was unbelievable."

That's what parishioners learned Saturday afternoon as they stood outside their gutted church while an investigator from the State Fire Marshal's Office picked through the rubble.

"But it was too late," said The Bangor Daily News. "The fire was fast, hot and devastating, claiming the church, the nearby rectory, and most of their contents -- except for a statue of the Virgin Mary."


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