Colchester, CT – AP – A white marble statue of the Virgin Mary is drawing hundreds of visitors at the site of an explosion that leveled a church last week.
Many are calling it a miracle that the statue, which was about 25 feet from St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, remained standing after Friday’s blast, which authorities believe was caused by a leaking propane tank.
Patrice Dempsey drove up from Salem to pray to the Virgin Mary for a miracle for her 9-year-old niece, who is scheduled to have surgery at the end of the month for the spina bifida she was born with.
“I can’t believe out of all this rubble, the Blessed Mother is still intact,” Dempsey told The Hartford Courant, wiping tears from her eyes. “It’s as if she beckons to the people and tells them, ‘I’m here and I won’t let you down.”‘
Others wanted just to see the statue and offer their prayers. “I would call it a message from Mary,” said Nancy Libby, who traveled from Haverhill, Mass., with her husband, Donald, to photograph the site. “It is a miracle, really. A miracle no one was in the church and that this (statue) survived.”
The 6:45 a.m. blast was so powerful it knocked over chairs in nearby homes and could be heard for 10 miles.
To believers, divine intervention kept anyone from being injured: The pastor, his pregnant wife and their 3-year-old son were sleeping just 50 feet away in the rectory, which received minor damage.
“We believe it’s a miracle,” Ted Szarzanowicz of Newington said after he placed a vase filled with red roses at the statue. “I feel spiritually close to Mary. I feel she is the one thing watching over this world.”
A spokesman for the Hartford Roman Catholic archdiocese, which is not affiliated with the church, said it was not surprising that some believe Mary intervened in Friday’s events because no one was injured.
“They personally might see Mary’s intervention in this particular case,” the Rev. John Gatzak said. “Whether it is actually or it’s coincidence, we’ll leave that up to God. If through this, people can be brought closer to him and to each other, I think some good can come out of this.”