GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador — Everything collapsed around it, but the glass case with the statue of Our Lady of Light remained intact after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador on April 16.
The statue was housed at the Leonie Aviat school in the Tarqui administrative district in Manta Canton, Ecuador, one of the areas most strongly affected by the earthquake.
The Oblates have been working in this school since 1960 and had more than 900 students enrolled for this school year.
The earthquake, which was declared the worst in Ecuador in approximately 70 years, left 600 people dead and thousands more injured.
Sister Patricia Esperanza, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales community in Guayaquil, told CNA that the school run by her congregation was reduced to rubble. But while the entire school collapsed, the glass case of the Virgin, who is patroness of the Oblates, was completely unharmed.
The sisters cannot get over their amazement, she said.
Sister María del Carmen Gómez of the community in Manta, told CNA that on April 20, during demolition work, the statue was discovered.
“Not only did the Virgin remain intact in its grotto, but also my Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” she said.
“The Blessed Sacrament was in a small chapel at the entrance to the school and was buried. We found it intact, together with some liturgical objects used for the Eucharistic celebration and another smaller statue of Our Lady of Light.”
Now, the occurrence is giving hope to the Tarqui community and consolation to Ecuadorans throughout the country.