Bronze Statue of Mary Dedicated at DeSales; Site Serves as "Peaceful Haven"
The Most Rev. Edward Cullen, D.D., Bishop of Allentown, blessed and dedicated the seven-foot bronze statue of Mary, Our Lady of Deliverance, on a scenic hillside plaza overlooking the DeSales campus, during an afternoon ceremony on Thursday, October 7. Created by Ben Marcune, Bethlehem sculptor of national and international acclaim, the statue is a rendering of the famous Marian statue, which has been in Paris since the 1400s.
The hilltop site, surrounded by vivid oranges and reds of changing leaves and vibrant yellows of freshly planted mums, was a colorful setting for the event. More than 100 people attended, including faculty, staff and students from DeSales, and invited guests.
The Rev. Bernard O'Connor, OSFS, President of DeSales, provided opening remarks. "When one journeys to Mary, one quickly will get to God," said Father O'Connor, in respect to the statue.
Following the welcome, Bishop Cullen, reflected on the Virgin Mary's importance in the Church.
"Mary, the model of the Church here on Earth, is a role model to us all. This place (the site of the statue), will be a peaceful haven for students dealing with their difficulties," said Bishop Cullen.
Father O'Connor concurred with the Bishop's remarks, proclaiming that the Virgin Mary is the "best model of a humanist in the Catholic Church".
When the statue of Mary was unveiled, Bishop Cullen blessed it with holy water and incense, and called Mary "the mother of the visible image of the invisible God" who serves as a "model for the Church and the path it must follow." During the blessing, the DeSales Schola Cantorum, led by Mr. Paul Summerlin, director of Choral Activities, performed "Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above."
Ben Fortunado Marcune, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., created the statue in only 18 months. "I wanted to give the students a contemplative place, which could create a restful escape from the stressful nature of their college lives. Mary holds her right hand outward, as to say to the tired or stressed students, 'come to me'".
According to Marcune, he used the Renaissance version of the Black Madonna, and added a 21st century, contemporary feel to it. "Artistically, I used elements of a Renaissance-style patina on a modern sculpture, combining the classic and the contemporary."
During the spring of 2003, Marcune, Father O'Connor and Father Alexander Pocetto, senior vice president at DeSales, took a "spiritual journey" to the Parisian church and located the original statue. Marcune took photos and made sketches, which were used to create the sculpture.
"First I needed a concept, which I found during my trip to Paris with Fr. O'Connor and Fr. Pocetto. Then from the concept, I made various sketches, which I then used to make a maquette, a smaller version of the Madonna statue," said Marcune. "All of this process was needed to retain the original beauty of the Parisian Madonna."
Marcune asked Johanna Castaneda, a native of Columbia, to serve as the model for Mary and Marcune's grandson, Owen Adams, for the infant Jesus.
According to Father Thomas F. Dailey, director of the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture at DeSales, the Marion Statue has an important Salesian significance. The original Black Madonna is found in the Church of St. Etienne-des-gres in Paris. The young Francis de Sales spent several years in Paris, from 1578 to 1588, while in search of his own education and vocational development. During that period, he attended the college of Clermont, the first Jesuit institution. Upon returning from classes, Francis would stop at the church and pray before the statue of the Black Madonna. According to many biographers, it was on one such occasion, while reciting the ages-old "Memorare" prayer from memory, that Francis de Sales experienced a spiritual conversion and true understanding of divine mercy. This event drastically impacted Francis's life.
The statue of Mary at DeSales sits on top of a 9000-pound granite pedestal. On both sides of the statue are plaques, one recounting Francis' life-altering experience at the Parisian statue, the other, containing the "Memorare." At some time in the future, DeSales plans to close the road located near the statue, while providing another access road to the campus located near the Lawless Center, in an attempt to significantly decrease noise and auto pollution around the site of the statue.
Press Release: Bronze Statue of Mary Dedicated at DeSales; Site Serves as "Peaceful Haven" | Posted on: 10/19/2004
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu