The Society of Our Lady, Healer of Hearts unveiled a statue, depicting their patroness, Our Lady, Healer of Hearts, sculpted by internationally acclaimed master sculptor, Gregor Mussner, and the world-renowned artists of Mussner G. Vincenzo Art Studio.
The statue, which was commissioned by the society’s founder, J. Basil Dannebohm, will be blessed during a special Mass on Sunday, September 9th, 2018 at the apostolate’s headquarters in Salina, Kansas. The Right Reverend Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen, OSB, will preside over the Mass with the Reverend Kevin Barrett concelebrating, and the Reverend Stan Fortuna, CFR, serving as homilist.
Stasyszen and Barrett are members of the ministry’s spiritual advisory council. Fortuna, who will bless the statue, serves as the ministry’s spiritual director.
“The great saint, Pope John Paul II, reminds us that ‘From the time when Jesus, dying on the cross, said to John, ‘Behold your mother,’ the mystery of the spiritual motherhood of Mary has been actualized boundlessly in history.’ The spiritual motherhood of the Virgin Mary is one of the essential elements of the Society of Our Lady, Healer of Hearts, depicted so beautifully in this statue,” said Fortuna. “The Blessed Mother has an extraordinary and immaculate capacity to release the love alone that provides all that is necessary for the healing of every heart without exception”, said Fortuna.
The process to create the statue took 5 months. Mussner and his team began by creating a clay model, which served as the guide from which the statue would be carved. Next, wood imported from Croatia was fixed on a special carving table. Using different tools, Mussner began to create the statue, craved entirely by hand. As the work progressed and the statue started to take shape, the chisels used became more intricate. Once the carving was complete, a team of specialized painters used various techniques to add color to the piece until the desired result was achieved. 22 carat gold leaf was used for gilded parts of the statue.
Located in Ortisei, in the Dolomite Mountains of northeastern Italy known as “the valley of woodcarvers,” Mussner’s art studio, was founded in 1892. The studio has received numerous awards and acknowledgements of excellence. In 1998, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, commissioned Mussner to create a statue entitled, “Mary of Nazareth.” The statue, depicting a young Mary, made a worldwide Marian Pilgrimage through 50 countries.
Unlike typical depictions of the Blessed Mother, the 40” statue of Our Lady Healer of Hearts depicts the Virgin Mary with her arms outstretched and Her hands cupped, holding a gilded heart. The gesture is rich in symbolism.
“A statue depicting Our Lady reaching her heart to the observer in front of her is uncommon in her gesture, but not in what she stands for,” said Mussner. “Her gesture suggests she is saying, ‘Come to me. Both I, and my beloved Son, will give you all of ourselves.’ It could also suggest that she is saying, ‘My heart beats for you, trust me. I gave you my heart, now change your life and come to me.’ Our Lady, Healer of Hearts, is a title which can effectively be used to explain Our Lady’s grace.”
While not an official epithet of The Virgin Mary, “Our Lady, Healer of Hearts,” is a title that Dannebohm, hopes will foster a renewed sense of Marian devotion, especially from those who need to experience healing of body, mind, and spirit. The gilded heart is something he hopes will serve as an inspiring visual reminder.
“It is only when our hearts are healed, when they are genuinely united with Our Lord’s Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Our Most Blessed Mother, that can we truly appreciate the gift of Divine Mercy. When our hearts are united with theirs, they are more precious than gold. May each of us, through the intercession of Our Lady Healer of Hearts, attain a heart of gold.”
The Society of Our Lady Healer of Hearts is an international prayer group of Catholic men and women, comprised of members of the clergy, religious, and the laity. Operating as a private association of the faithful, the apostolate has more than 400 members from 10 countries.