October 27, 2014
Communications and Marketing
A new addition to the campus landscape was dedicated and blessed on October 25 during Family Weekend. The Grotto at Saint Anselm College, located at the northwest corner of the Campus Green, was constructed this fall thanks to the generosity of John N. Sullivan in memory of his parents, Evelyn R. and Daniel F. Sullivan. The grotto's main feature is a new statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be known as the Madonna of Saint Anselm, which was created by Mont Vernon, N.H., artist Sylvia Nicolas.
The dedication ceremony began with a candlelight procession from Davison Hall, led by Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B. and the monastic community. The opening hymn in honor of the Grotto statue was Immaculate Mary, led by Billy Endicott '16 and Frankie Mueller '15. President Steven R. DiSalvo offered welcome remarks.
"We have gathered here in joy for the solemn blessing of this statue of the blessed Virgin Mary and of this place of quiet prayer and contemplation. We come together with gratitude for the generosity of John N. Sullivan in memory of his parents Evelyn R. and Daniel F. Sullivan for the construction of this Grotto on our campus. And we take a moment to acknowledge the fine work of Sylvia Nicolas, the artist of the statue we are here to dedicate. Under the title, Madonna of Saint Anselm, this statue will remind us of the close ties of Mary to Christ and his Church. She is Christ's Mother, the Mother of the visible image of the invisible God. But she is also the image and the model of the Church, and she is its exemplar. In Mary the Church joyously contemplates the image of all that the Church itself desires and hopes wholly to be. The Church recognizes Mary the model of the path and the practice it must follow to reach complete union with Christ. We should strive to take part in this service to God with the greatest intensity and reverent devotion."
Abbot Mark offered the prayer of blessing on the grotto. The ceremony was followed by mass in the Abbey Church.
The Madonna of Saint Anselm complements the other large scale bronze statues already signature features on campus- the statue of Saint Anselm stands at the top of the Quad (installed in 1987) and the statue of Saint Benedict on Saint Anselm Drive (installed in 1989) were both also created by Nicolas. Over the past 40 years, the artists' artwork has added to the college's artistic beauty in many forms, including sculptures, stained glass, mosaic murals, and medals. Recently, she created 24 stained glass windows for the refectory of the Abbey. The windows represent stories in the life of Saint Benedict.
The Grotto will provide a new place of prayer on campus, dedicated to quiet contemplation and reflection for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.