On November 7, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan — a Category 5 Super Typhoon and the strongest tropical cyclone to make a landfall on record with winds of 195 mph — hit the islands of the Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan wrought catastrophic destruction in central Philippines, where cities and towns are largely destroyed. According to UN officials, about 11 million people have been affected and many are left homeless. It is estimated that at least 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban alone. If the death toll is confirmed, this would be the deadliest natural disaster on record in the Philippines.
U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said after taking a helicopter flight over Tacloban, “I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house.”
Below is an image of the devastation of Tacloban:
Amidst the total destruction of the city of Tacloban, one sacred statue stands — a statue of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Kneeling before Mary is a statue of St. Bernadette (1844-1879), to whom Our Lady had appeared 18 times in a grotto in Lourdes, France. That grotto became the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, a major place of pilgrimage — by an estimated 200 million people since 1860 — and of miraculous healings. The Holy See has officially recognized 69 healings at Lourdes to be miraculous. Those miracles are determined by the Church in accordance with rigorous criteria that exclude physical or psychological explanations, leaving only the healing power of the grotto’s spring water as the sole explanation.
Tacloban is not the only statue of Mary that survived destruction.
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck America’s entire eastern seaboard, with particularly severe damage in New Jersey and New York. Damage in the United States amounted to $65 billion.
A spit of land in Queens, NY, called Breezy Point was destroyed first by flood, then by fire. More than 100 homes burned to the ground because the flood kept firefighters from reaching it.
One of the homes burned to the ground was that of the McNulty family, on the corner of Oceanside and Gotham, a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. Flooding and fire had left behind nothing but the house’s charred foundation.
The one part of the home to survive intact was a statue of the Virgin Mary that Mary McNulty had placed in her garden years ago.