Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rosary Vigil at Georgetown University

Sometime late in the week of 15 February 2009, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, which was a gift of the class of 1950, was vandalized. Black paint was applied to its face during the overnight hours (see a picture of the vandalism here). As soon as the damage was discovered, the university took steps to immediately repair the damage.

Several Georgetown student groups (including the Georgetown Catholic Daughters, Georgetown Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Student Association of Georgetown ) responded to the sacrilegious vandalism by holding a 24-hour Rosary Vigil from the evening of 26 February to the evening of 27 February. At least five decades of the Rosary were prayed every hour for the 24 hours, with an hour dedicated to a different mystery of the Rosary. Other Marian prayers and devotions also took place, as well as silent time for meditation.

I traveled to Georgetown on the evening of the 26th. It was only the second time in my life that I had been on the campus. After parking my car nearby, I walked to the Copley Lawn, where the statue is located. A group of undergraduate women were praying in front of the statue when I got there. People had lit numerous candles in front of the statue. There was also a bouquet of roses that had been place at the foot of the pedestal of the statue. It was a sight to behold, between the exterior beauty of the candlelight shining on the statue and the interior beauty of the students praying.

I ended up spending over an hour there, leading a Rosary, and standing by as students and other people came and went. I also lead a Marian devotion known as the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which I had just learned. A young Jesuit priest from nearby Holy Trinity parish came by and prayed with us. His devotion to the Blessed Mother was quite apparent.

It was really good to see that the statue had been more or less cleaned up by the time of the vigil. According to the Georgetown University website, they held an official rededication of the statue on 4 March.

The student groups had set up a table nearby on the lawn, which had assorted snacks for those taking part in the vigil, as well as materials about Our Lady from the Knights of Columbus, as well as free Rosaries. They also had additional candles that people could bring over and light in front of the statue.

It was an honor to participate in the vigil, and in my personal opinion, the vigil was a sign that Georgetown's Catholic identity is far from dead.


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