News from the
Marian Library
Mary in the
Secular Press


Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.


Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of December with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of December.

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New Resources

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to About Mary page.  The latest added was Panama.  Expect more countries to follow.

We have also enhanced our search utility to allow users to examine the holdings of The Marian Library.  Please try out the new feature at Search and send us your feedback.

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  News from the Marian Library

Polish Madonna Prints Still Available!

While the note-cards are now out of stock, seven different 11" x 14" prints are still available from Wislawa Kwiatkowska's "Polish Madonnas in Art and Poetry" exhibit.  All pictures are printed on 80# paper.

The pictures available are:

Madonna of the Sowers

Madonna Covered with Cherry Blossoms

Mother of God of Lichen

Mournful Mother of Czestochowa


Madonna of the Mushrooms

Our Lady of the Birches



Madonna Riding on a Deer


These 11" x 14" prints are $5 each.  There is an additional charge of $5 for each quantity of 11 prints or less to cover postage and handling.  Here is an example of the postage and handling rates:

1-11 prints: $5 per ORDER (not per print)

12-22 prints: $10

23-33 prints: $15

Specify which prints and quantity you want and make a check or money order out to "The Marian Library." Mail it to:

The Marian Library
Attention: Prints
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH 45469-1390

We also have a "Polish Madonna" Windows PC screensaver that shows all twelve of the pictures that were in the St. Anthony Messenger article.  It sells for $5.00, which includes postage and handling.

If you have any questions, please call 937-229-4214.

Print Descriptions

Madonna Covered with Cherry Blossoms: Delicate cherry blossoms frame the faces of Mary and Baby Jesus while butterflies--symbols of the Resurrection--circle around them.

Madonna of the Mushrooms:  These mushrooms of autumn are attractive but deadly; Mary draws out the poison and warns against the allure and perniciousness of sin.

Madonna Riding on a Deer: Based upon a Polish legend, this picture shows Mary and Baby Jesus being whisked away from danger by a swift and noble deer.

Madonna of the Sowers: From the lilac heather, through the morning fog, the wind pulls threads from Mary's shawl and wraps them around the trees and branches, protecting the autumn seeds.

Mother of God of Lichen: Mary fingers her rosary and gazes prayerfully at the insignia of the Polish eagle on her chest, as the animals are drawn to her loving maternal presence.

Mournful Mother of Czestochowa: In this portrait of the famous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Baby Jesus tries to comfort his mother as she mourns for the fate of the Polish people. Around Mary's shoulders is a blue and gold ribbon from which hangs the Virtuti Militari--the highest Polish military honor that is given in recognition of bravery. (The two slashes on the face of the original icon were inflicted by Hussite soldiers in the fifteenth century.)

Our Lady of the Birches: The white of the birches symbolizes the purity of Mary, while the storks gathered around  her represent prosperity and the hope for children.

New Employee at The Marian Library

Kris (Helen) Sommers--Graphic Design Specialist

Kris has been in graphic arts for over 35 years, working for many agencies in Los Angeles.  A graduate of Circleville Bible College, she enrolled in UD's Religious Studies department in 2000, serving as a graduate assistant in The Marian Library.  She will receive the M.A. in Religious Studies in 2006.  She has three children, two grandchildren, and a four-year-old great grandchild.  She continues her work on The Mary Page and on the setup and design of Marian Library publications.

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New Web Addresses for The Mary Page

In order to make our web site more accessible, The Mary Page may now be reached at the following URLs:;;; and  The original address on the University of Dayton site,, remains active as well.

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Web Collaborators

Two important Catholic websites have added The Mary Page to their list of Media Partners. highlights items from The Mary Page in their section on Catholic News. includes a Mary Channel on their navbar with Mary Page articles. Please visit these site in return.  We expect continued collaboration with them in the future.

Also, the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) has added the Gallery section of The Mary Page to the Exhibits section of their on-line museum, the Plethoreum.

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Current Exhibit

"Lost in the Beauty of Her God," the inspired works of Sister Marie Pierre Semler, M.M. (1901-1993), will be displayed in The Marian Library Gallery through January 20, 2006.  Visitors are welcome weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or by special arrangement.  For details call 937-229-4214.  Click here for a virtual exhibit.

Copies of Oasis in the Night: Art Works and Writings by Marie Pierre Semler, M.M., as well as holy cards and packets of note cards based on the exhibit are available for a limited time at The Marian Library.

Creches and Straw Art are also on display in our museum.  Additional nativity sets are also on display at Gallery Saint John (4400 Shakertown Road in Dayton) from noon to 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday through January 8, 2006.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Spring 2006 semester are scheduled to begin on February 20.  The course schedule for this semester is now available.

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Cathedral Offers Christmas Nativity Exhibit

St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, in cooperation with The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, will offer an exhibition of 26 nativity scenes representative of the cultures and nationalities from around the world.  The exhibition will be at the cathedral from now through Sunday, January 1, 2006.  Hours are Sundays from 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm; Saturdays from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm; weekdays from noon to 2:00 pm  This year's exhibit will feature nativities from the American Southwest.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look! This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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Restoration of Nativity Scene by Arnolfo di Cambio
Vatican City, December 15, 2005

A nativity scene, one of the most famous works of art to be housed in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major, will be presented to the public today following several months of restoration work.

The nativity scene was created by the Florentine sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio--whose death 700 years ago is currently being recalled with a series of exhibitions and cultural events throughout Italy--between 1290 and 1292 at the behest of Nicholas IV, the first Pope from the Franciscan Order. The pontiff ordered Arnolfo di Cambio to construct a nativity scene in the form of a chapel, in order to encourage devotion for the relic of the manger, which according to tradition is housed in St. Mary Major.

The sculpture has undergone interventions and alterations over the centuries, and only a few figures from the original nativity scene have survived: St. Joseph, the ox and the ass, and the three Magi. The most famous intervention was that undertaken by the architect Domenico Fontana who in 1590, by order of Pope Sixtus V, transferred the whole group beneath the altar of St. Mary Major's Sistine Chapel, which was then being built.

The restoration, ordered by Cardinal Bernard Law, archpriest of the Basilica, involved studies on the work's artistic and historical context, and the technique with which it was created, as well as photographic studies and a series of scientific investigations on remaining traces of polychromy. The restoration revealed, among other things, that a sculpture of the Virgin with Child, which had long been considered to be a work of the late Renaissance, is actually the original of Arnolfo di Cambio's nativity scene, its front re-sculpted in accordance with the artistic fashions of the late sixteenth century.

The restoration work was directed by the experts Arnold Nesselrath and Luciano Ermo of the general direction of the Vatican Museums. The nativity scene is currently on display in the museum of St. Mary Major, awaiting the completion of restoration work in the basilica's Sistine Chapel.

Papal Homily on 40th Anniversary of Close of Vatican II
"Mary Turns to Us Saying: 'Have the Courage to Dare with God!'."

Vatican City, December 14, 2005

Homily delivered by Benedict XVI at the Mass commemorating the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. The Mass was on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception last Thursday in St. Peter's Basilica.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Pope Paul VI solemnly concluded the Second Vatican Council in the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica 40 years ago, on 8 December 1965. It had been inaugurated, in accordance with John XXIII's wishes, on 11 October 1962, which was then the feast of Mary's Motherhood, and ended on the day of the Immaculate Conception.

The Council took place in a Marian setting. It was actually far more than a setting: It was the orientation of its entire process. It refers us, as it referred the Council Fathers at that time, to the image of the Virgin who listens and lives in the Word of God, who cherishes in her heart the words that God addresses to her and, piecing them together like a mosaic, learns to understand them (cf. Luke 2:19,51).

It refers us to the great Believer who, full of faith, put herself in God's hands, abandoning herself to his will; it refers us to the humble Mother who, when the Son's mission so required, became part of it, and at the same time, to the courageous woman who stood beneath the Cross while the disciples fled.

In his discourse on the occasion of the promulgation of the dogmatic constitution on the Church, Paul VI described Mary as "tutrix huius Concilii"--"Patroness of this Council" (cf. "Oecumenicum Concilium Vaticanum II, Constitutiones Decreta Declarationes," Vatican City, 1966, p. 983) and, with an unmistakable allusion to the account of Pentecost transmitted by Luke (cf. Acts 1:12-14), said that the Fathers were gathered in the Council Hall "cum Maria, Matre Iesu" and would also have left it in her name (p. 985).

Indelibly printed in my memory is the moment when, hearing his words: "Mariam Sanctissimam declaramus Matrem Ecclesiae"--"We declare Mary the Most Holy Mother of the Church," the Fathers spontaneously rose at once and paid homage to the Mother of God, to our Mother, to the Mother of the Church, with a standing ovation.

Indeed, with this title the Pope summed up the Marian teaching of the Council and provided the key to understanding it. Not only does Mary have a unique relationship with Christ, the Son of God who, as man, chose to become her Son. Since she was totally united to Christ, she also totally belongs to us. Yes, we can say that Mary is close to us as no other human being is, because Christ becomes man for all men and women and his entire being is "being here for us."

Christ, the Fathers said, as the Head, is inseparable from his Body which is the Church, forming with her, so to speak, a single living subject. The Mother of the Head is also the Mother of all the Church; she is, so to speak, totally emptied of herself; she has given herself entirely to Christ and with him is given as a gift to us all. Indeed, the more the human person gives himself, the more he finds himself.

The Council intended to tell us this: Mary is so interwoven in the great mystery of the Church that she and the Church are inseparable, just as she and Christ are inseparable. Mary mirrors the Church, anticipates the Church in her person, and in all the turbulence that affects the suffering, struggling Church she always remains the Star of salvation. In her lies the true center in which we trust, even if its peripheries very often weigh on our soul.

In the context of the promulgation of the constitution on the Church, Paul VI shed light on all this through a new title deeply rooted in Tradition, precisely with the intention of illuminating the inner structure of the Church's teaching, which was developed at the Council. The Second Vatican Council had to pronounce on the institutional components of the Church: on the bishops and on the Pontiff, on the priests, lay people and religious, in their communion and in their relations; it had to describe the Church journeying on, "clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification ..." ("Lumen Gentium," No. 8).

This "Petrine" aspect of the Church, however, is included in that "Marian" aspect. In Mary, the Immaculate, we find the essence of the Church without distortion. We ourselves must learn from her to become "ecclesial souls," as the Fathers said, so that we too may be able, in accordance with St. Paul's words, to present ourselves "blameless" in the sight of the Lord, as he wanted us from the very beginning (cf. Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 1:4).

But now we must ask ourselves: What does "Mary, the Immaculate" mean? Does this title have something to tell us? Today, the liturgy illuminates the content of these words for us in two great images.

First of all comes the marvelous narrative of the annunciation of the Messiah's coming to Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth. The Angel's greeting is interwoven with threads from the Old Testament, especially from the Prophet Zephaniah. He shows that Mary, the humble provincial woman who comes from a priestly race and bears within her the great priestly patrimony of Israel, is "the holy remnant" of Israel to which the prophets referred in all the periods of trial and darkness.

In her is present the true Zion, the pure, living dwelling-place of God. In her the Lord dwells, in her he finds the place of his repose. She is the living house of God, who does not dwell in buildings of stone but in the heart of living man. She is the shoot which sprouts from the stump of David in the dark winter night of history. In her, the words of the Psalm are fulfilled: "The earth has yielded its fruits" (Psalm 67:7).

She is the offshoot from which grew the tree of redemption and of the redeemed. God has not failed, as it might have seemed formerly at the beginning of history with Adam and Eve or during the period of the Babylonian Exile, and as it seemed anew in Mary's time when Israel had become a people with no importance in an occupied region and with very few recognizable signs of its holiness.

God did not fail. In the humility of the house in Nazareth lived holy Israel, the pure remnant. God saved and saves his people. From the felled tree trunk Israel's history shone out anew, becoming a living force that guides and pervades the world. Mary is holy Israel: She says "yes" to the Lord, she puts herself totally at his disposal and thus becomes the living temple of God.

The second image is much more difficult and obscure. This metaphor from the Book of Genesis speaks to us from a great historical distance and can only be explained with difficulty; only in the course of history has it been possible to develop a deeper understanding of what it refers to.

It was foretold that the struggle between humanity and the serpent, that is, between man and the forces of evil and death, would continue throughout history. It was also foretold, however, that the "offspring" of a woman would one day triumph and would crush the head of the serpent to death; it was foretold that the offspring of the woman--and in this offspring the woman and the mother herself--would be victorious and that thus, through man, God would triumph.

If we set ourselves with the believing and praying Church to listen to this text, then we can begin to understand what original sin, inherited sin, is and also what the protection against this inherited sin is, what redemption is.

What picture does this passage show us? The human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbors the suspicion that in the end, God takes something away from his life, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast him aside; in brief, that only in this way can we fully achieve our freedom.

The human being lives in the suspicion that God's love creates a dependence and that he must rid himself of this dependency if he is to be fully himself. Man does not want to receive his existence and the fullness of his life from God.

He himself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to God's level, and to overcome death and darkness with his own efforts. He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own life autonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death.

Love is not dependence but a gift that makes us live. The freedom of a human being is the freedom of a limited being, and therefore is itself limited. We can possess it only as a shared freedom, in the communion of freedom: Only if we live in the right way, with one another and for one another, can freedom develop.

We live in the right way if we live in accordance with the truth of our being, and that is, in accordance with God's will. For God's will is not a law for the human being imposed from the outside and that constrains him, but the intrinsic measure of his nature, a measure that is engraved within him and makes him the image of God, hence, a free creature.

If we live in opposition to love and against the truth --in opposition to God--then we destroy one another and destroy the world. Then we do not find life but act in the interests of death. All this is recounted with immortal images in the history of the original fall of man and the expulsion of man from the earthly Paradise.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we sincerely reflect about ourselves and our history, we have to say that with this narrative is described not only the history of the beginning but the history of all times, and that we all carry within us a drop of the poison of that way of thinking, illustrated by the images in the Book of Genesis.

We call this drop of poison "original sin." Precisely on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we have a lurking suspicion that a person who does not sin must really be basically boring and that something is missing from his life: the dramatic dimension of being autonomous; that the freedom to say no, to descend into the shadows of sin and to want to do things on one's own is part of being truly human; that only then can we make the most of all the vastness and depth of our being men and women, of being truly ourselves; that we should put this freedom to the test, even in opposition to God, in order to become, in reality, fully ourselves.

In a word, we think that evil is basically good, we think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. We think that Mephistopheles--the tempter--is right when he says he is the power "that always wants evil and always does good" (J.W. von Goethe, "Faust" I, 3). We think that a little bargaining with evil, keeping for oneself a little freedom against God, is basically a good thing, perhaps even necessary.

If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings but degrades and humiliates them. It does not make them any the greater, purer or wealthier, but harms and belittles them.

This is something we should indeed learn on the day of the Immaculate Conception: The person who abandons himself totally in God's hands does not become God's puppet, a boring "yes man"; he does not lose his freedom. Only the person who entrusts himself totally to God finds true freedom, the great, creative immensity of the freedom of good.

The person who turns to God does not become smaller but greater, for through God and with God he becomes great, he becomes divine, he becomes truly himself. The person who puts himself in God's hands does not distance himself from others, withdrawing into his private salvation; on the contrary, it is only then that his heart truly awakens and he becomes a sensitive, hence, benevolent and open person.

The closer a person is to God, the closer he is to people. We see this in Mary. The fact that she is totally with God is the reason why she is so close to human beings. For this reason she can be the Mother of every consolation and every help, a Mother whom anyone can dare to address in any kind of need in weakness and in sin, for she has understanding for everything and is for everyone the open power of creative goodness.

In her, God has impressed his own image, the image of the One who follows the lost sheep even up into the mountains and among the briars and thorn-bushes of the sins of this world, letting himself be spiked by the crown of thorns of these sins in order to take the sheep on his shoulders and bring it home.

As a merciful Mother, Mary is the anticipated figure and everlasting portrait of the Son. Thus, we see that the image of the Sorrowful Virgin, of the Mother who shares her suffering and her love, is also a true image of the Immaculate Conception. Her heart was enlarged by being and feeling together with God. In her, God's goodness came very close to us.

Mary thus stands before us as a sign of comfort, encouragement and hope. She turns to us, saying: "Have the courage to dare with God! Try it! Do not be afraid of him! Have the courage to risk with faith! Have the courage to risk with goodness! Have the courage to risk with a pure heart! Commit yourselves to God, then you will see that it is precisely by doing so that your life will become broad and light, not boring but filled with infinite surprises, for God's infinite goodness is never depleted!"

On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the great sign of his goodness which he has given us in Mary, his Mother and the Mother of the Church. Let us pray to him to put Mary on our path like a light that also helps us to become a light and to carry this light into the nights of history. Amen.

[Translation distributed by the Holy See]

Message for '06 World Day of Peace
"The Problem of Truth and Untruth is Concern of Every Man and Woman."

Vatican City, December 13, 2005

Here is the conclusion of Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Peace, to be celebrated Jan. 1. The Holy See today published the message, whose theme is "In Truth, Peace."

. . . With confidence and filial abandonment let us lift up our eyes to Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace. At the beginning of this New Year, let us ask her to help all God's People, wherever they may be, to work for peace and to be guided by the light of the truth that sets man free (cf. John 8:32). Through Mary's intercession, may all mankind grow in esteem for this fundamental good and strive to make it ever more present in our world, and, in this way, to offer a safer and more serene future to generations yet to come.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2005.

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The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Tsunami Survivors Offer Prayers to Our Lady at the Lourdes of the East
[Source: Asia News, December 26, 2005]

Tsunami survivors came as pilgrims to offer special midnight mass prayers on Christmas in the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health in Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, known as the Lourdes of the East.

Hundreds of pilgrims took part in a procession in the newly-restored church, which had been badly damaged by the December 26 seaquake, ahead of mass. Children wore white and blue clothes, Mary’s colors, as an ex voto.

Survivors of all faith took part in the ceremony. All said they came to thank Our Lady for sparing them and to pray for their dearly departed.

 “We had only a 30 per cent attendance at the midnight mass as compared to other years,” the Rector of the Basilica Fr P Xavier told AsiaNews. “For some of the survivors the wounds of the tragedy seem to have re-opened on the anniversary of the tragedy.  However, for those who came to the mass, there appears to be a process of healing.  For us priests at the basilica, it is an overwhelming feeling of sadness woven  into a feeling of gratitude to God and also a feeling of fulfillment for all the relief , rehabilitation and reconstruction work the Church could carry out for people of all faiths and castes.”

“You can say that our mission for these tsunami victims,” Fr Xavier stressed, “is to ferry people from a place of despair to one of hope.”

“Last year, I was here in Velankanni attending the mass service when the tsunami occurred. I saw so many people die just beyond the walls of the shrine . . .” said Mariam Joseph, a survivor.

“This year, I have come to give thanks to Mother Mary. It is because of Her that I am alive. Had I come for the earlier mass, I would have perished. Mary protected me within the confines of her house.”

Velankanni in Tamil Nadu, famous for the sea-facing Marian Shrine, was one of the worst hit places in last year's tsunami, with about 850 deaths, 300 of whom were pilgrims, swept away while strolling on the beach close to the church or shopping at stalls.

Nagapattinam alone had 6,065 deaths in the catastrophe, or 76 per cent of Tamil Nadu's total death toll.

A majority of the victims were fishermen and their families. Not only did many lose their lives or those of family members, but most also lost their homes and means of livelihood as well.

Tamil Nadu was the worst affected Indian state in the December 26 tsunami, claiming over 7,000 lives, more than a third of them children. At least 16,000 people were killed in tsunami in India.

Being Catholic in the South
[Source: The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), November 20, 2005]

Southern Catholics have always been considered suspect: Catholic children are continually asked if they have been saved and, more pointed, if they are Christian. Further, neighbors look upon Catholic practices, such as saying the rosary and venerating the Virgin Mary, with much suspicion. The diocese with which I worked clearly recognized that this mistrust existed in the wider community and the social pressure it put on their children to behave like the majority. Thus as they taught the children their religious and ethnic heritage, the catechists and parents hoped that they would make the children understand that this heritage was a part of their identity (a part about which they could be proud) and not simply an alternative they could choose. While this attitude toward their Catholic heritage may seem less important today as more and more Catholic migrants have come to North Carolina, it has developed from Catholicism's long history as a minority religion in the South.

In the early nineteenth century, when Irish immigrants to the United States began flooding parishes in the North, the number of Catholics in Georgia and the Carolinas warranted the creation of only a single diocese, the Diocese of Charleston. The Diocese of Raleigh did not become a separate entity until 1926. Between 1820 and 1860, nearly three hundred thousand Irish had joined parishes in the Northeast, while North Carolina claimed only five Catholic churches and had almost no ecclesiastical infrastructure. Without the influx of European immigrants that so transformed the North, the southern Catholic Church grew slowly, even after the Vatican sent the Church's first vicar to the region at the close of the Civil War. That priest, who would become Cardinal James Gibbons, estimated that there were three hundred Catholics in North Carolina when he arrived in 1868. In the nearly one hundred years that followed the Civil War, the Church barely made a mark on the state's religious landscape. It was not until the late 1960s, when northerners came south to enjoy the economic and climatic benefits of the Sunbelt, that the Catholic Church began to garner a visible membership in the South. ...

Job opportunities brought northern Catholics to the Triangle in great numbers. Almost all the white children at Blessed Sacrament and Holy Cross travel to the Northeast to visit their relatives, whereas the African American children at Holy Cross had their families in the parish. Brian, an energetic white nine-year-old boy, from Blessed Sacrament, who had moved to Burlington, North Carolina, when he was younger, lamented, for instance, that many of his relatives could not come to First Communion: "All my family lives in Pennsylvania, and they don't have time . . . It takes five or eight hours and then [to] go back [another] eight hours."

Pilgrimage through Ponteix
[Source: The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan), November 29, 2005]

There are a few cracks in the more than 500-year-old wooden statue at the front of the grand Roman Catholic church.

But the small signs of wear only hint at the painted statue's colorful past. Known as a pieta, the oak carving depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ and is thought to have been created around 1475.

"There's been lots of favors granted to people who pray at pieta," said Ray Chabot, a parishioner at the Notre Dame d'Auvergne.

Long before it came to Ponteix, the statue is believed to have survived the French Revolution--when many religious symbols were destroyed--because it fell into good hands and was tucked away under some hay, said Chabot.

The church itself, built of concrete covered with brick, towers over Ponteix and can be seen from kilometres away. It was built in 1929 after a previous church burned down.

The two steeples stand nearly 40 metres high with crosses on top roughly seven metres tall. Inside, the white and pastel-hued church is noted for its absence of columns.

The parish is also at the root of the town's history.

Father Albert-Marie Royer, a French priest, crossed the Atlantic in 1906 with dreams of establishing a parish dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He settled on the north side of Notukeu Creek in 1908 and named both the parish and hamlet Notre Dame d'Auvergne, or Our Lady of Auvergne.

Following the arrival of the railway south of Notukeu Creek, the settlement moved to be near the rail line was renamed Ponteix in 1914, after Father Royer's former parish in France. A church was built, and kept the name Notre Dame d'Auvergne.

The pieta, given to Father Royer in the early 1900s, was brought to Ponteix by a settler. It reportedly made the long journey from France, but not before being nearly thrown overboard at sea by some passengers who blamed it for rough waters.

When the first Notre Dame d'Auvergne in Ponteix burned to the ground in the 1920s, the pieta again escaped harm.

"Some parishioners still say there was kind of a miracle," said Chabot, explaining someone went to the basement of the burning church to rescue the statue. "He pushed it through a window that was smaller than the pieta."

The pieta is part of what still draws people to the current church each July 16.

"Every year since 1934, there has been a pilgrimage here," said Chabot. "In the 30s and 40s when things were difficult and we had lots of people, this church would be filled to overflowing.

"All these side lofts, and the choir, everything was packed. They had speakers outside and chairs all over the place. There were special trains to bring people from all over the province and outside of the province." ...

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