The Replica

Could it be that my “unveiling” of a cobweb covered statue of the Blessed Mother in my church’s closet, back in the early 1990’s, might have been the foreshadowing to the present “unveiling” of the statue and oil painting of Mary, Ark of The New Covenant for the “New Evangelization?” Could it be that the ironic words I exclaimed at that moment, “Blessed Mother, what are you doing stuffed in a dark closet?” would be the words that caused me to reflect and act on the wisdom of Vatican ll’s directing the faithful to bring Mary into the light with these words: “Everyone should have a genuine devotion to [Mary] and entrust his life to her motherly care.” In all humility, I cannot help but think that the answer is “Yes!”

It was in late 2009 that my dear sister in Christ, Antoinette, mentioned that a statue should one day be made based on the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus. Then, in the spring of 2010, through the grace of God, I met Adam Miller, from A.T. Merhaut, Inc. who saw the watercolor of Vessel of the Peborn Jesus, and shared with me that he, too, recently, was contemplating Jesus within the womb of Mary. Since his position at the religious goods store involved statue sales, he asked if I might consider having a statue rendered based on Lea Ravotti’s watercolor. I explained that I thought the Lord was calling for a statue to be made some day but I would have to pray and discern about it.

At that time, the Lord also connected me with Pat Polachek, who has a great devotion to Jesus, The Divine Mercy. We quickly became friends, as I shared that my reversion to the Catholic faith had taken place through the grace of God, and his using the 3:00 Divine Mercy Hour in 1991. Pat was preparing for a trip to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Poland in December, 2010, to meet with Cardinal Dziwisz, former secretary to St. Pope John Paul ll. She took the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus in watercolor, to present him as a gift. After that encounter, and his blessing on the image, the Lord began to slowly reveal the second part of the ministry: a statue and oil painting of Mary, Ark of The New Covenant.

It was in January of 2011, during the noontime Angelus hour, while praying in front of the tabernacle, that I asked my daughter Melissa Marie, whom I had miscarried in 1987, to go and get all the babies that were in heaven, and together, we would pray for an end to abortion. In my mind’s eye I envisioned millions of babies but the thought also came of a rainbow around the throne of God, and that rainbow was glistening with the most beautiful precious gemstones as if each baby gifted the Lord a precious stone, which adorned and completed the corona rainbow around God’s throne.

Later that afternoon, my husband’s cousin Patty called me and our conversation centered on the Book of Revelation. She suggested that each of us could trace ourselves back to one of the twelve tribes of Israel and how significant the Old Testament was to understanding the New Testament. Those statements motivated me to immediately read the entire Book of Revelation in my New American Bible, with particular attention to Rev. 4:3,

“And He sat there on a throne like jasper and a sardius stone in appearance: and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.” The initial thought came- if there was to be a statue made, the rosary encircling baby Jesus would be green, like emeralds, only each large Our Father bead would be a different color.

Then, I read Rev. 21: 18-21,

“The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh hyacinth and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates was made from a single pearl: and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.”

Without a doubt, the most profound moment in my reading occurred when I read the footnote to Rev. 21:18-21 which referenced Exodus 28: 18-21, specifically Exodus 28: 15-21;

“On it you shall mount four rows of precious stones [the breastplate of judgment], four rows of stones: in the first row, a carnelian, a topaz and an emerald; in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire and a beryl; in the third row, a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. These stones are to be mounted in gold filigree work, twelve of them to match the names of the sons of Israel, each one of them engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

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Immediately I recalled the popular scripture passage from Rev. 12:1 “A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun…and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” I began to envision a statue of Mary with a crown of twelve different colored Swarovski crystal gemstones upon her head and Jesus within her womb, encircled by an exquisite Swarovski emerald rosary.

It was during the Spring Campaign for Forty Days for Life 2011, while reading Scott Hahn’s description of Mary, under the title Ark of the Covenant in his book, Hail Holy Queen, that I came to the astounding realization, through God’s amazing grace, that just as the Israelite’s marched with the Ark of the Covenant and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, so should we take the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus and march with it around Planned Parenthood in hopes to close the abortion clinic there. Mary is the Ark of The New Covenant!

The ark was holy to the Israelites and central to their faith because of its contents: The Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone, the manna from the desert in the golden urn, and the priestly rod of Aaron that budded. As I gazed upon the watercolor of Preborn Jesus within the womb of Mary, I thought how much holier is she whose womb contained Preborn Jesus, the Word of God Made flesh, (not just the tablets), The True Bread of Life (not just the manna), Jesus, the eternal Priestly King, not just the rod). I immediately contacted our 40 Days for Life Campaign director who said, she would call a Jericho March for Father’s Day weekend. That June day was the first of many Jericho Marches around the block of Planned Parenthood. We prayed, we sang and we shouted, blowing the shofar, just as the Israelite army had done in days of old.

My research of Mary, under her title, “Ark of the Covenant” revealed that she was first thought to be given the title by St. Augustine of Hippo, whose writings provided profound insight into her unique role in salvation history.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2676) states, “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God…with men.”

In addition, writings from the Early Church Fathers, as well as modern theologians like Scott Hahn and others helped me to use the following scripture parallels to begin to understand how the “New Testament lies hidden in the Old.” and why Mary is Ark of The New Covenant, most importantly with the following quote from scripture:

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple… And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Revelation 11:19, 12:1)

During the spring of 2011, I had reconsecrated myself to Jesus through Mary and allowed her to be the model to teach me how to love Jesus more deeply. As I studied her messages in her many apparitions, I had a burning desire to share her with others. The more I talked about Jesus, the more I would share about His love for His mother and their unique union. It was at this time that I also joined the Legion of Mary, and learned more fully about the Blessed Trinity’s plan for Mary in salvation history.

In particular, I was reading about Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception. The full name of Christopher Columbus’ flagship was the Santa Maria de la Immaculada Concepcion (Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception). Our country was consecrated to her under this title, and the Miraculous Medal, which I was gifted by my mother, and wear around my neck, was originally named the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. When the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure to give her the mission to have the medal struck, she explained the symbolism of the medal: The inscription, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” refers to the dogma that Mary was free from sin from the first moment of her conception. She crushes the head of the serpent under her feet (see Genesis 3:15) while distributing graces symbolized by the rays from the rings on her hands, to those who ask for them. On the reverse side of the medal, the “M” symbolizes Mary, and the cross symbolizes Christ. The union of the two, shows Mary’s participation in Christ’s cross and her role with each of us, her spiritual children, in the world. The stars signify the twelve apostles.

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It was the symbolism of the Miraculous Medal, combined with the symbolism of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that inspired, in part, the design of the statue. By uniting the understanding of the foreshadowing of the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament with these two images of our Lady, and adding the latest rendered image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus, I was inspired to have the unique statue of Mary Ark of The New Covenant rendered. It was on the Feast of Corpus Christi in June, 2013 while in prayer that the final significant detail unfolded; the base of the statue would be the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament.

The inscription from Rev 11:19 and 12:1 would be plated on the ark. Mary, Vessel of the Preborn Jesus would be atop the ark. The moon would be under her feet as well as the serpent. On the body of the serpent would be the inscription from Genesis 3:15. A crown of twelve stars would be atop The Blessed Virgin Mary’s head. The different precious gemstones in the crown would correspond to the names of the twelve tribes of Israel as referenced in the scripture passage, Exodus 28: 18-21. Both the gemstones in her crown, and the precious gemstones in the rosary encircling Preborn Jesus, would be of Swarovski crystal. She, in all her dignity, as displayed in this new statue, would be at the forefront to lead the battle as Mary, Ark of The New Covenant.

Again, as with the original sketch of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus, I asked the Lord in all humility,” It seems as if all the pieces are here, if this is truly Your Will, allow it to happen.” Then, asking St. Louis de Montfort, who had taught me so much about the Blessed Mother through his inspired writings I said, “Over three hundred years ago you carved a statue of the Blessed Mother, I ask for your prayers and intercession.”

Three days later I attended a new prayer meeting, not knowing anyone except the person who invited me. The beautiful prayer time slipped by quickly and soon I realized that I would have to leave to get my son, even though the prayer meeting had not ended. Turning to the woman next to me and quietly explaining that I had to leave, I presented her a stack of holy cards with the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus. I asked her to kindly give one to each person in attendance, then I left.

About to get into my car, I was abruptly stopped, when a woman who I did not know came up to me and said, “Wait, do not leave! I have chills all over my body looking at this image. (holy card of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus) Do I have your permission to have it carved into a statue? “

In utter amazement I explained that indeed there was to be a statue made, but I was envisioning the statue to be more than Vessel of the Preborn Jesus. It was to be Mary, Ark of The New Covenant based on this image, but the Blessed Virgin shall stand on the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament and she will have a crown of twelve Swarovski crystal precious gemstones as well as a rosary made of precious gemstones encircling Preborn Jesus within her womb.

She exclaimed,” I will underwrite the cost of the whole thing!”

Within a few days I was in contact with her brother, Douglas and the rendering of the thirty inch hand carved statue of Mary, Ark of The New Covenant was underway.

It was at this time that my friend Pat was traveling to Rome and she wanted to take the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus and the dvd we recently had made to promote purity with youth entitled, Billions of Medals, Billions of Graces- the Miraculous Medal and the Virtue of Purity to gift Pope Francis for “The Year of Faith.” Her hope was to attend the Wednesday Audience and give the items to the pope’s guard to forward to Pope Francis. She asked me to write a note to accompany the gifts.

The letter, in part stated, “…in appreciation for your pontificate and your daily living of the Gospel of Life, with encouragement for those of us in the Mystical Body of Christ, to do the same, I humbly present to you our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son, in this image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus.” I went on to ask, ”Dearest Holy Father, may I most humbly ask for your blessing as plans are underway to have a statue made based on the image of Vessel of the Preborn Jesus yet it will have a significant difference. The statue will be entitled, Mary, Ark of The New Covenant, and will be our Lady with Preborn Jesus within her womb, standing on a base which is the Ark of the Covenant.

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It was amazing that on June 26, 2013, the very day that Pope Francis received the gifts and letter (through his guard, as my friend had hoped) he said these words in his Wednesday Audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today I would like to mention briefly another image that helps us describe the mystery of the Church: the temple (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, n. 6).

What does the word “temple” make us think of? It makes us think of a building, of a construction. More especially the minds of many turn to the history of the People of Israel recounted in the Old Testament. Solomon’s great Temple in Jerusalem was the place for the encounter with God in prayer. Inside the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God’s presence among the people; and the Ark contained the Tables of the Law, the manna and Aaron’s rod. This was a reminder that God had always been in the history of his People, that he had accompanied it on its journey and had guided its steps. The Temple is a memorial of this history. When we go to the Temple we too must remember this history, each one of us our own history, how Jesus met me, how Jesus walked beside me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.

Even more amazing was the fact that nearly seven months later I received a letter from the Vatican stating, “The Holy Father has received your letter and gifts, and he has asked me to thank you. He has prayed for you and your family, and he sends his blessing.”

With great joy, the original thirty inch carved statue of Mary, Ark of the New Covenant was completed and blessed on May 31, 2014, the Feast of the Visitation. It travels to many churches, nursing homes, schools and pro-life settings to bring Mary, Ark of The New Covenant to the forefront in the many battles we face today and to give all glory to God, through the wisdom of what the Early Church Fathers taught when they spoke of the womb of Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant. It was an honor to accept the invitation to have the statue in the sanctuary of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sept. 20, 2014, and if it is the holy will of God, soon replica statues will grace many churches and settings.

Nearly five years after Adam Miller from A.T. Merhaut. Inc. inquired about making a statue, and after several generous benefactors approached me about having a replica made, we are pleased to give all praise and glory to God as we announce that the first thirty-six inch resin statue, based on the hand carved original of Mary, Ark of the New Covenant was unveiled and blessed on February 22, 2015 by Fr. Angelus Shaughnessy, OFM, Cap.

In addition to the unveiling and blessing of the newly rendered replica statue of Mary, Ark of The New Covenant, the sacred artwork set of Jesus-The Divine Mercy and Mary, Ark of the New Covenant by renowned artist James Sulkowski were unveiled and blessed simultaneously. It is hoped that the set of oil paintings will be used at Family Eucharistic Holy Hours especially for meditation during the rosary (Mary, Ark) and the Divine Mercy Chaplet (Jesus).

In closing, let us meditate on the words of St. Francis de Sales, whose words were published in the January, 2015 edition of Magnificat. “The chaste womb resembles the Ark in which were the manna, the rod of Aaron which had blossomed, and the tablets of the Law of Moses (Heb 9:4)….”Oh, how blessed then is this womb,” our Lord seems to say, “since it is more precious than the Ark of the Covenant; and therefore how blessed is this Woman because she is my Mother. And certainly this happiness belongs only to her inasmuch as no other creature, whoever she might be, can or will ever be honored with the title of Mother of God.”