She s been on the road for nearly 60 years, traveling to more than 100 countries and bringing her message of hope to well over 100 million people. Now she s back in northwest Ohio.
The world-traveler is the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue, a four-foot-tall hand-carved image of the Virgin Mary made of mahogany.
Her keeper is Carl Marlburg, a 65-year-old retired lumberjack from Munster, Ind.
Mr. Malburg has been traveling with the statue since 1985 and has carried it to more than 25 nations. He said the last time it was in the Toledo diocese was in 1993.
The statue is, of course, a very, very fine work of art and it could be admired on its artistic beauty alone, Mr. Malburg said. It s kind of a famous masterpiece like the Mona Lisa or something.
But he said that s not the reason why so many people flock to the statue.
The religious significance is what draws people. It has a religious message that is an answer to today s situation, Mr. Malburg said. People know they re just not getting the moral perspective from the media. And although we re very Catholic in what we do, we find people of all Christian faiths showing up. There s kind of a hunger, a searching there, he said.
The first statue was carved by sculptor Jose Thedim in May, 1947, in honor of the 1917 miracle of Fatima when an image of the Virgin Mary was seen by three children in Portugal.
Soon after the statue began its journey, the crowds were so large that Mr. Thedim created another statute in October, 1947.
The statue arrived in northwest Ohio on May 4 and will be at St. Adalbert s Church, 3233 Langrange St., today and St. Hedwig s Church, 2916 Lagrange St., tomorrow.
It will travel to various Catholic churches, schools, and other locations through May 24. Information is available online at www.pilgrimvirginstatue.com.