Gazebo uprooted, statues toppled at St. Padre Pio Shrine in Buena
High gusts of wind caused damage at the St. Padre Pio Shrine. Several religious statues toppled over and broke. Vineland Daily Journal
BUENA – A gazebo, apparently uprooted by fierce winds, left a swath of destruction Thursday at the St. Padre Pio Shrine that includes a toppled marble statue of the Blessed Mother.
The twisted structure of metal and canvas appeared to careen across the front lawn, fracturing the wings of angel statue, flipping benches, and felling a decorative light standard before coming to rest against a fence.
Marie D’Andrea, a shrine founder, discovered the damage during her daily visit to the monument, located just off Central Avenue in the Landisville section of the borough.
“It’s my life; I go every morning,” D’Andrea told The Daily Journal. “I was devastated, just devastated.”
“The big gazebo whipped up the aisle and the Blessed Mother’s head was off,” she said. “She was a marble statue that was put there from a non-Catholic and I said I would never, never, never move it.”
The Blessed Mother statue stood in front of the shrine for more than 15 years, D’Andrea said.
Franklin Township police responded to the shrine about 9:30 a.m. and noted nothing suspicious, deeming the damage weather-related. The National Weather Service recorded gusts of 45-50 mph in the region, which was under a wind advisory Thursday morning.
No one was reported injured at the shrine that attracts a steady stream of visitors who pray in the sanctuary and add their appeals to prayer request journal.
Pearl Giordano of Vineland called the shrine, which was completed in 2002, “a miraculous place.”
“God is there,” Giordano said. “God is there, and he is listening.”
“I have seen so many miracles,” she said, recounting inexplicable healing of family and friends after prayers to St. Padre Pio. “It is just a place of peace, it really is.”
D’Andrea, still numb for heartbreak, tried focus on repairs.
“I am very upset, I’ve been working on that for 24 and half years,” she said. “And then to come and see something like that.”
The damaged gazebo was one of two put up on the front lawn in the spring. D’Andrea said she planned to take them down but was waiting for a new shed to store them on the property.
“I want to get everything redone,” she said, planning to have a new gazebo for next year.
D’Andrea couldn’t yet speak about restoring the Blessed Mother statue.
Her voice thick, she said, “I can’t even talk about it because it hurts so badly.”
Noting how the gazebo veered a few yards to spare the St. Padre Pio statue, D’Andrea didn’t hesitate to credit that blessing.
“God’s hand,” D’Andrea said.
Donations may be sent St. Padre Pio Shrine, P.O. Box 184, Landisville, NJ, 08326
Deborah M. Marko is a senior reporter with The Daily Journal. Currently focused on breaking news and education issues, she also oversees community outreach programs that promote literacy and public safety. Got a story idea? Call 856-563-5256. Follow on Twitter: @dmarko_dj Instagram: deb.marko.dj Help support local journalism with a The Daily Journal subscription.
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