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Statue of Mary intact after Hurricane Ida draws attention on the web

Imagem de Maria intacta

St. Hubert Catholic Church, Garyville, Louisiana | Facebook

Francisco Veneto - published on 10/06/21

Local people said that they see this as a sign of Our Lady's protection in critical situations.

A statue of Mary that remained intact after Hurricane Ida is getting attention on social networks.

The photo was published by the Catholic parish of St. Hubert in Garyville, Louisiana, after the devastation caused by the category 4 hurricane, which left more than one million people without power in the New Orleans metropolitan area alone, in addition to causing the deaths of at least 13 people in that area. The official nationwide death toll has continued to rise as more bodies are found amid cleanup efforts, reaching nearly 80 at the time of this writing.

Along with the photo, the parish posted on August 30 the following comment:

“In the midst of tree damage, Our Lady stood as protection for our village of Garyville. Not a branch touched her as they fell all around her. Thank you Mother Mary for interceding for us.”

Several of the faithful who commented on the post said that other images of Mary in their homes and gardens also withstood the hurricane intact. They said that they see this as a sign of Our Lady’s protection in critical situations.

Is it a miracle?

One cannot technically speak of a miracle when there are plausible scientific explanations for an event. In this case, a considerable range of variables can explain why a natural weather event, despite having catastrophic potential, may have left an image of Mary intact amidst great damage.

The use of the term “miracle” is common in the face of phenomena that appear supernatural: in the vast majority of cases, however, the use of this word is well-intentioned, but since it’s a technical term can be hasty and misleading.

Miracles are scientifically inexplicable phenomena that contradict the rules of nature as we know them. For any phenomenon to be officially declared as supernatural by the Church, prudent and detailed studies are necessary.

The Church follows very strict scientific criteria for declaring any phenomenon a miracle. Miracles of healing, for example, can take decades to be recognized. The facts need to be carefully studied by doctors, reviewed by scientists (in most cases, laymen and even atheists), and exposed to public criticism.

Only after all the scientific studies are complete will the Church itself carry out a theological analysis, the work of its commissions of theological experts.

Is it a “sign” then?

By “sign” we mean something that carries a “meaning,” so there is certainly no mistake in saying that yes, it is a natural sign—that is, a rare and striking fact, but still explicable in the natural order of things. This kind of fact, however unusual to our eyes, reflects primarily the very existence of a natural order, and this is already grandly thought-provoking: there is a natural order rather than mere chance.

In fact, it’s not only the supernatural that can impact us: nature itself, including our natural ability to admire beauty, also has a lot to tell us, since the fascinating properties of nature as such already refer us to one of the key questions of philosophy and science: What is the origin of all this?

A striking event that is explainable within the natural order of things can serve as a “trigger” for important reflections.

Christians believe that God speaks to us through signs, whether natural or supernatural, and that He always leaves to the freedom of conscience of each person the final decision on how to interpret them. Atheists themselves, by the way, usually emphasize that tragedies are “proof” that God doesn’t exist, appealing to their “faith” in the non-existence of God based on signs that are subject to personal interpretation (which, by the way, scientifically speaking, are not valid as proof of the non-existence of God).

For those who believe in the non-existence of God, everything is and will always be mere chance and meaninglessness. For those who believe in God and the supernatural meaning of existence, everything is and will always be a great miracle, witnessed by an abundance of signs full of meaning.

The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims Hishandiwork. (Psalm 18:1).

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