By Edie Schmierbach
NORTH MANKATO — A marble representation of the Blessed Mother above the main doors at Holy Rosary Catholic Church could well be dubbed "Our Lady of the Patient Parish."
It's been 63 years since a pocket where a figure could be placed was built into the house of worship.
Holy Rosary parish was organized in 1924. The original church building now houses the parish school. The present building was built in 1950.
"So many in the parish didn't even know the insert for a statue was there," said Kurt Evans, maintenance manager.
Rev. Peter Nosbush began a search a few years ago to fill the longtime vacancy.
Church secretary Lorraine Klaseus was the one who noticed the empty spot on the building where she has been attending services during the past 52 years. So, when she found out the Nosbush was making arrangements to order a marble figure, she pitched in. Klaseus donated funeral memorials she was given in honor of her husband, John, who died in 2011.
"I went to Father and asked, 'Can this be used for the statue?'" Klaseus said.
Parishioners contributions covered most of the cost of the $10,000 needed to purchase, deliver and install the 45-inch, 250-pound carved work.
Richard and Carol Boruff gave in memory of his parents, Sam and Juella Boruff, who were members of Holy Rosary for about 70 years.
"We thought it would be nice to do something in their honor," Richard Boruff said.
Nosbush ordered the bas relief statue of Mary and the baby Jesus from a marble company in Italy.The stone work is a replica of any earlier work by an unidentified artist. Its figures were fashioned from a Tuscany quarry's blue-gray Carrara marble, the same material Michelangelo used for his "David" and "Pieta" sculptures.
On May 31, a crew from Kunkel Electric installed the statue, which looks out over Sherman Avenue. The Mother Mary and her Son, now smile lovingly over everyone who enters the church.
"She is Our Lady of the Rosary," Nosbush said.
Parish members were able to get a close look at the statue when it was blessed during a service last fall, before she was lifted to her permanent spot above the peak of the building. Lighting for the statue has not yet been placed.