Why Do Statues Survive Disasters?

Our LadyA house fire once destroyed all the holy objects in my bedroom – except one 

It was reported this week that a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was left untouched by a fire that gutted a military base near Madrid. Reading about this reminded me of something similar that happened in my own life.

Seven years ago this summer, I had a bad house fire where my bedroom was charred by flames. All my religious statues, rosaries and prayer cards were burned to dust. When the toxic fumes evaporated and things cooled down, it was safe to go in there again. There was a pungent smell of burnt plastic.

Almost everything that was made from plastic had melted and become fuel for the bonfire – I say “almost”, because when I searched through the rubble I was astonished to find that a piece of earth from Fatima, encased in a little plastic bubble, had survived the flames.

I had the plastic, which looked no thicker than cling film, examined and I was told that it should have combusted or exploded in the heat. I believe that the raging flames were prevented from destroying a tiny part of the ground that Our Lady had personally visited.

In the same way, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was untouched by fire, is an icon of Our Lady’s miraculous appearances at Lourdes, when the Queen of Heaven paid a visit to our home here on earth.

These are not isolated instances – and not every holy object that mysteriously survives a conflagration is of Our Lady or related to a Marian apparition.

I have always been struck by case histories of statues of the Divine Infant of Prague that have survived devastation and/or fire.

For example, there is the astounding story of how a rural church in Syston, Leicestershire, came to be dedicated to the Divine Infant of Prague. During the 1940s, a ruinous fire destroyed the meeting rooms around the church. A statue of the Divine Infant of Prague was found among the rubble by a Fr Horgan, who had a strong personal devotion to the Divine Infant. The statue was broken but had not been burnt to dust or reduced to rubble.

According to this account by Helen Harwood: “Fr Horgan was so amazed at the discovery in a secular building that he took it as a sign and decided that this would be the dedication of the new Syston church: the Divine Infant of Prague.”  Source 

15 responses

  1. I love to read about these statues surviving and I always think it’s God’s way of reminding us that he is still with us and that we should have recourse to Our Lady with total confidence of her power. The story of the Divine Infant of Prague is wonderful as well.

  2. I’ve no idea why this happens but I completely believe these occurrences are miraculous. Is there a contradiction in my last statement?!

  3. I am the very same. It always amazes me when I read of these statues surviving fire and storms but I do believe they are miracles, probably for the reason Michaela gives, that God wants to remind us that he is still there and of Our Lady’s special place in his plan of salvation.

    I’d never heard of the custom of putting a coin under the statue of the Infant of Prague but I’ve just done so now myself! I put a pound coin under mine!

    • Margaret Mary

      I too have never heard of putting a coin under a statue of the Divine Infant of Prague. Mrs Lep and I were given a statue as a wedding present 54 years ago and due to the base being a bit on the narrow side it is easy to topple it over meaning that the head has broken off and been glued back on numerous times.
      Putting a pound coin beneath it would exacerbate the problem, but perhaps if I were to put a £5 note underneath it would make me five times more saintly – at least until Mrs.Lep uses it to pay the milkman on his next visit!
      I am thinking of glueing surplus CDs under my statues to prevent them toppling so readily in future.

  4. Leprechaun,

    “perhaps if I were to put a £5 note underneath it would make me five times more saintly”

    LOL!

    I’d never heard of that custom either – probably better odds than a lottery ticket!

    I agree about the statues being a sign from God when they survive disasters. It’s the little things that count!

  5. I must put a £ coin under my statue of the Infant of Prague – after all, lottery tickets are up to £2 so this way I save a quid and still increase my chances of getting rich quick… as if 😀

    About the topic – I once had a lengthy conversation with a non-Catholic who said he couldn’t believe in the various apparition claims because Our Lady only appeared to Catholics.

    When I read the above article I thought of that conversation but then remembered a headline online about a non-Christian statue which had survived some disaster or other – for the life of me I can’t find it now that I’m trying to be terribly open-minded, ecumenical and inter-faith-conscious etc.

    Seriously, I wanted to find it to see if there could be a scientific explanation for the non-Christian statue surviving…

    No, I’m not a bigot… Just being realistic. Would God preserve a statue representing a false god or false religion?

  6. Thank you, Editor for posting this story.

    Such examples of God’s suspension of the laws of nature shouldn’t come as a shock to any Catholic, and certainly not in the case of sacred images of Our Lady, “the Mother of the King of the universe” (St Gregory Nazianen) and “the Queen of every creature” (St John Damascene).

    Surely such interventions only demonstrate the honour that Our Lord shows to His most holy Mother, whose “honour and dignity surpass the whole of creation”, and whose “greatness places you above the angels” (Saint Germanus).

    Why should anyone consider protection of sacred images and relics of Our Lady’s shrines from the forces of nature strange when God, “showered Her with heavenly gifts and graces from the treasury of His divinity so far beyond what He gave to all the angels and saints that she was ever free from the least stain of sin; she is so beautiful and perfect, and possesses such fullness of innocence and holiness, that under God a greater could not be dreamed, and only God can comprehend the marvel.” Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.

    Bloggers might remember that statues of Our Lady and Our Lord were miraculously left undamaged during the earthquake and typhoon in the Philippines two years ago.

  7. I don’t know Catholics are surprised when holy icons are preserved during disasters etc. I, too, often wondered why Our Lady didn’t appear to non-Catholics but then, why would She? Either the Catholic religion is the one true religion or it’s not. If it is, then why, as Editor pointed out, would the Mother of God appear to non Catholics? To tell them what?

    Editor, maybe the non christian statue was a priceless work of art…….

    • Helen,

      Could be that it was a priceless work of art but we’ll never know, since I just can’t find anything online. Maybe I imagined it in the first place. Who knows. I’m bound to make a mistake some day 😀

  8. I may be a bit off message, but on reading this post I was reminded of something I was told by a (still living) very elderly catholic lady. She was on holiday in the Italian Alps walking on the snow with a non-believing friend. She was telling this friend about how she believed she had always enjoyed a special protection of Our Lady which she attributed to her praying the rosary daily. The friend replied that she had no need of such things. Suddenly the friend tripped in the snow and put out her hand to break her fall. What did her hand find as it penetrated the snow? A rosary.

    • Prognosticum,

      That’s a lovely story and not at all “off message” I would love to know the friend’s reaction and whether it made a difference to her attitude.

  9. The first time I heard about putting a coin under a statue of the Infant of Prague was many years ago from a Presbyterian great aunt who had a statue in her china cabinet, It had belonged to a Catholic neighbour and when she died her family, as is traditional when someone dies, allowed her friends to take a keepsake and aunty Mary took the Infant of Prague. She told me that you put a coin under it as an act of trust that He would take care of all money troubles you may have. When I later asked other Catholics if they had heard about this practice everyone of them looked at with astonishment and said “of course.” We have a statue of the Infant of Prague in our chapel and there is a 5p piece underneath it. Anything higher would make the statue wobble a bit.
    Regarding statues, a former colleague of mine once wrote a little article about favourite statues among tenement dwellers. Apparently in the old tenements statues could be found on the landings and each landing would have their favourite saint. When talking to people he found that the Infant of Prague was the statue that most popular.

    • Vianney,

      “We have a statue of the Infant of Prague in our chapel and there is a 5p piece underneath it. Anything higher would make the statue wobble a bit.”

      Sounds like an Edinburgh parish to me. Some of us have a pound coin underneath and our statues don’t wobble 😀

  10. Er, I’ve now put a fiver under our statue and I await all my debts being cleared.

    5p?? Yes, it does sound like an Edinburgh parish!

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