Mary Statue in St. Albert Hall- St. John’s Queens Campus

Authored by Alicia J. Collumbell

A statue of a “Miraculous Mary” located in the main lobby of St. Albert hall. Created by St. John’s University, Office of University Mission.

A statue of a “Miraculous Mary” located in the main lobby of St. Albert hall. Created by St. John’s University, Office of University Mission.

This sculpture located inside St. Albert Hall is modeled after the image of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The statue is believed to have belonged to St. John’s University since at least 1958. It is probable that the statue came around the time of construction of the Hill Crest (Queens) Campus, but knowledge about whether the sculpture was commissioned, donated or how it otherwise came to be in the possession of the university has thus far eluded researchers. However, the object’s prominent location in the main lobby of St. Albert Hall should indicate that some one somewhere knows why and possibly when it was placed here.

During research of this object, it came to light that the statue had been repainted from full color to pure (marble-esk) white. This change assumedly occurred so that the statue of the miraculous would match a marble statue of St. Albert that was added to the main lobby. Around the same time the St. Albert statue arrived, St. Albert Hall’s main lobby was renovated and two alcoves (one for each statue) were created. The Department of Design and Construction for St. John’s University was contacted about this matter, but no leads have been presented.  

The statue’s placement in St. Albert Hall, the science building of the Queens Campus, is viewed as intentional. Therefore, the significance of this Miraculous Mary and what she means towards the study of science as well as toward being Vincentian must be considered.

Displaying this statue in the main lobby of the science building reminds students of the role that faith and religion can play in science. While formally scientific knowledge is not necessary for the discernment of miracles, it can be of assistance.[1] It is often erroneously asserted that the progress of science has weakened the case for miracles. The progress of science has actually strengthened the case for miracles by giving man a “constantly deeper and fuller understanding of the processes of nature, thereby enabling him to recognize certain phenomena even more definitely as beyond natural powers”.[2] The sculpture of Mary is not easily missed upon entry to St. Albert’s Hall and serves as a reminder that faith and reason can be complimentary.

This statue of Mary is referred to as a “Miraculous” because she is representative of the image of Mary that appears on the Miraculous Medal.[3] The Miraculous medal has a special connection to Vincentians as well as the Daughters of Charity. The medal was revealed by the Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure, a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.[4] St. Vincent de Paul was the founder of the Vincentian order of priests and recognized as the “Great Apostle of Charity”.[5] The tie of the Miraculous Medal to Vincentian ideals becomes more apparent after connecting the story of the medal to St. Vincent de Paul and the Daughters of Charity. St. John’s University as a Vincentian institution strives to inspire individuals to have “compassion and a zeal for service”.[6] Whenever possible the university aims to devote its resources to search out the causes of poverty and social injustice. These Vincentian ideals are part of the University Mission and connect back to the Miraculous Medal in such a powerful way. Mary has been widely honored as representing inner strength and the exaltation of the oppressed over the oppressor.[7] It would seem, that the statue of a Miraculous Mary within St. Albert Hall is intended to remind and inspire students of science to use their work to give back to these under represented groups.

[1] New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., s.v. “Recognition as Miraculous.” Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2003. 669.

[2] Ibid.

[3] J.M. Aladel. The Miraculous Medal. Tr. P.S. Baltimore, 1881.

[4] “Our Connection to the Vincentians.” The Vincentians: Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. Accessed March 21, 2016. http://cammonline.org/who-we-are/the-vincentians/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Our Mission.” St. John’s University: Our Mission. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://www.stjohns.edu/about/ourmission.

[7] Metzger, Bruce M., and Coogan, Michael, D., eds. The Oxford Guide to People and Places of the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 192.

Bibliography

J.M. Aladel. The Miraculous Medal. Tr. P.S. Baltimore, 1881.

Metzger, Bruce M., and Coogan, Michael, D., eds. The Oxford Guide to People and Places of the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., s.v. “Recognition as Miraculous.” Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2003.

“Our Connection to the Vincentians.” The Vincentians: Central Association of the Miraculous Medal. Accessed March 21, 2016. http://cammonline.org/who-we-are/the-vincentians/.

“Our Mission.” St. John’s University: Our Mission. Accessed March 29, 2016. http://www.stjohns.edu/about/ourmission.

 

 

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