Blog Post

Breezy Point Madonna Becomes Symbol of Hope

The image of a Blessed Mother statue that managed to survive the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has become an impromptu shrine and a symbol of hope.

The New York Times is reporting that the now famous image of an outdoor statue of Our Lady that managed to survive the fire that burned more than 100 homes to the ground on a spit of land in Queens known as Breezy Point, has taken on a life of its own.

Now referred to as the Breezy Point Madonna, people are coming to the scene at the corner of Oceanside Avenue and Gotham Walk to leave flowers, candles, and other mementoes at the feet of Our Lady as the devastated neighborhood struggles to resurrect itself from the ashes of Hurricane Sandy.

The statue belonged to Mary McNulty, who placed it in her garden many years ago. The McNulty's neice Regina inherited the property after their death, never knowing that she would one day lose everything except that white stone statue of the Mother of God.

The Times reports that one of the first photographers on the scene on October 30, the morning after the hurricane and fire that destroyed the community, was Frank Franklin II of The Associated Press. Although raised by Protestant parents, Franklin was transfixed by the scene of the lone statue standing amongst the ruins. He had attended a Catholic high school and knew that there was a deeper meaning behind the statue's survival.

“It’s weird how I was drawn to it,” Mr. Franklin, 40, told the Times. “I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I know what those images are. When I made that frame, I knew it would resonate with people. What I couldn’t imagine was how much.”

Franklin said people began responding immediately to his photo, calling it "wonderful" and a "symbol of faith." By the afternoon of November 16, a Google search for "Breezy Point Madonna" retrieved more than 400,000 results.

Last week, Msgr. Michael J. Curran, the pastor of nearby St. Thomas More parish, came to see the statue for himself.

“It will be a symbol of the suffering, but also of our rise from the ashes," he said afterward. "It will be a symbol of what we’ve been through but also of our resurrection. It will be a reminder that for all the property we lost, God never left.”

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