As Houston drowned, a Robstown neighborhood burned but the miraculous made an appearance.
As Hurricane Harvey bore down on southeast Texas, the Rojas family decided to evacuate from their suburban Corpus Christi home. They returned Sunday to a pile of ash. As winds tore through their neighborhood, an electrical fire erupted and devoured their home.
But the Rojas discovered a signal grace: Rising above the ruins was their statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe — the inferno’s lone survivor.
Daughter Natali Rojas reflected on the meaning of the phenomenon. “Some may blame God and some may blame the hurricane but the only thing standing were holy things. As you can see this statue is the only thing that survived. I dug in there for things, and all I found is a Virgin Mary,” she told local station.
The Robstown phenomenon is not an isolated event. As mega-disasters have increased in recent years, the preservation of holy objects from calamity have increasingly attracted the attention of the faithful.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 at various places along the Gulf Coast, residents discovered statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that remained standing while surrounding buildings had been blown down or swept away.
While cynics often ask why God didn’t just spare the neighborhood destruction, those of faith recognize a deeper message in the phenomena.
In 2012, as Hurricane Sandy swept the Eastern Seaboard, the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point was decimated by fire with more than 100 homes burning to the ground. But again, amid the devastation, a statue of the Virgin Mary remained. As recounted by the New York Times, the “Breezy Point Madonna,” as the figure was christened, became a symbol of hope to those impacted by the storm.
“I’m so sorry for your homes,” one little boy wrote in a note placed at the statue. “But God will make something good out of it, and God will protect you big and small.”
In spite of his Protestant upbringing, Frank Franklin II, an Associated Press photographer, was immediately attracted to the Breezy Point Madonna and captured it in a famous shot.
“It’s weird how I was drawn to it,” he later said. “I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I know what those images are. When I made that frame, I knew it would resonate with people. What I couldn’t imagine was how much.”
Monsignor Michael J. Curran, pastor of nearby church St. Thomas More, reflected on its meaning, “It will be a symbol of the suffering but also of our rise from the ashes. It will be a symbol of what we’ve been through but also of our resurrection. It will be a reminder that for all the property we lost, God never left.”
Back in Robstown, Natali Rojas advised, “Appreciate what you have, listen to the warnings, hug your children and thank God for today and yesterday and pray for a better tomorrow.