Wednesday, September 10, 2008

hurricane repellent

Well thankfully Hurricane Ike wasn't interested in a visit Key West and that's a good thing, as his former category 4 strength would have cleaned our collective clock.
And while we can say we were lucky, I'm less likely to believe in luck than I am to believe in the power of prayer. So while the storm headed west into the unseen sunset, I headed over to the island's powerhouse of foul weather prayer for a quick word of "thanks again".

The Grotto of Saint Mary, built and dedicated in 1922, was first imagined by Sister M. Louis Gabriel as a protection against devastating hurricanes. Three years earlier, in 1919, a Category 4 storm, remembered as the "Florida Keys Hurricane", passed directly over Key West taking 300 lives before moving on to Texas where it took 300 more.

Inspired by that tragedy, Sister Gabriel and her fellow Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary, set to work creating the Grotto as a kind of hurricane repellent.

At the shrine's dedication in May, 1922 the good Sister blessed it saying, "For as long as this grotto stands this island will never suffer the full force of a hurricane."

These days, when hurricanes threaten, locals head to the Grotto of Saint Mary to pray and light candles and, as it turns out, since the the shrine has been there, no storms stronger than Category 2 have passed over Key West, the city has been spared major hurricane devastation and no lives have been lost.

No comments: