WARREN, Ohio-- It’s considered a special event to have the United Nations International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Mary come to an area, and she almost never returns to the same location twice.
But in an unprecedented move, the sacred statue, which was just in Northeast Ohio last summer, has returned for a rare repeat visit.
Katie Moran helped bring the statue to town both times.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Moran.
Moran says the statue has been brought back to Ohio because of the huge response last year and the large number of people who wrote in saying their prayers were answered after praying near the statue, which has reportedly wept in the past.
“Theologians say it’s called the aura of the mother of God around it,” said Moran. “That means the mother of God’s presence is with it in such a way that you can look at other images of our lady and get your fill. This one you want to look, look and look some more.”
The faithful say that’s because the statue is supposed to be what Jesus’ mother really looked like.
The statue was made under the guidance of Sister Lucia, one of 3 shepherd children who said they saw an apparition of Mary near the village of Fatima, Portugal on May 13, 1917.
The children said Mary revealed three secrets, including terrifying visions of hell.
They said she prophesied World War I, among other events, and that it all culminated in what’s known as “the miracle of the sun” six months later, which was witnessed by 70,000 people.
Judy Studer, the statue's custodian, says the miracle happened on a stormy, rainy day in October 1917. As people prayed the rosary while kneeling in the mud, they saw an apparition of Mary parting the clouds and raising the sun.
“It went in circles. It was as though it was doing a beautiful dance and then it stopped and became a huge ball of fire and plunged toward the earth,” said Studer.
She says people begged for God’s forgiveness and then praised God when the sun returned to normal.
Since then, Judy says numerous miracles have occurred in connection with Fatima and the statues. Originally, four were created to travel the world.
Judy herself was cured of inoperable colon cancer and she says her granddaughter was cured of neuroblastoma when she was six years old.
Doctors thought she’d never have a normal life, but Judy says her granddaughter, Jessica Marfeo, is now the current Miss Rhode Island and will be competing for
Miss America this September.
“Jessica is doing just beautifully,” said Judy.
Judy was so impressed and pleased by the response in Northeast Ohio last year, when people waited in line for 2 hours to see the statue, that she returned with the statue so others could experience their own blessings.
One of the people there last year was Jessica Miller.
Last August, she was told she’d never have children after an ectopic pregnancy and losing one of her fallopian tubes.
But a month after praying near the statue, she got pregnant.
“I really didn’t believe it at first that anything was gonna happen, but I was very hopeful,” said Jessica. “I was in awe, because I didn’t think I’d ever have kids.”
She and her fiance, along with her mother and little two-month-old Sophia, came to
St. Mary's Church in Warren Thursday night to give thanks for their little miracle.
Others in attendance said their prayers were also answered from other healings to finding employment.
“We had a lot of people talk about getting jobs that were lost, because we brought her back to bring grace to the valley,” said Moran.
And they say you can find grace too, if you just have faith.
“If you do pray to her and believe it will happen,” said Jessica. “It will happen!”
For the schedule and more on the Fatima Statue, click here.