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Image of a saint remains intact after school chapel collapses

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Dolors | Dolors

Dolors Massot - published on 10/03/22

The holy foundress has taken care of those who place themselves under her protection, and will continue to do so.

The Spanish city of Cadiz experienced on September 22 what could have been a terrible tragedy. The roof of the chapel the popular school of Las Esclavas (run by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), with a surface area of about 4300 square feet, collapsed. The whole interior of the chapel was destroyed by the falling beams, bricks, and roof tiles.

The fact that the collapse happened at a school caused concern, although firefighters arrived immediately and were able to verify that there were no injuries: the collapse had occurred in the morning but before school hours, at 7:30 a.m.

The chapel was totally destroyed. Although it’s not quite correct to say this, because amid the rubble, on one wall, the painting of St. Rafaela María – the foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – remained intact.

This can be taken as a message from Divine Providence: the holy foundress has taken care of those who place themselves under her protection, and will continue to do so.

Families of current students, as well as alumni, had words of affection and support for the school. One of them, Catholic musician Nico Montero, posted with emotion on Facebook:

A sad day. The roof of the Chapel of Las Esclavas School in Cadiz collapsed. No one was injured, thank God. And something surprising happened … on a wall, which stood firm, hung the picture of St. Rafaela María, for whom I have very special affection and about whom I wrote a musical album. 

Neither Nico Montero nor the firefighters missed an important detail: “The firefighters rescued the picture of the saint and a crown of thorns … The path of sanctity always involves thorns and also collapses. New life will spring up in abundance over the stones.”

The church had been closed since September 1 because an inspection had revealed a major deterioration of the roof. Now the authorities and architects will have to make an assessment and establish what measures the school will have to take to reopen the chapel.

In the meantime, it’s encouraging to see the signs left by this accident. They are the picture of the saint who started a precious educational work all over the world and a crown of thorns, which reminds us that, in the face of difficulties, the Lord is present in our lives.

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