Most can appreciate beautiful Italian marble sculpture in museums and churches such as Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.
Such a statue of Mary will be transported from Buffalo to Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in Washington, D.C. A gift from the national organization Catholic Purchasing Services, the statue will adorn the library of D'Aniello Hall, on the campus of the national seminary, Blessed John Paul II Seminary.
Cardinal Wuerl is being honored for 25 years of service as episcopal advisor to Catholic Purchasing.
"He made sure that we were always thinking, 'Church first,'" said Chip Mussen, director of Buffalo's Diocesan Purchasing Division. "This is our thank you to him."
Mussen serves as chairman of the board of directors for Catholic Purchasing nationwide. He has directed the statue's journey from the beginning.
The project started almost a year ago. When Cardinal Wuerl let the board know he would be stepping back due to increased responsibilities in Rome, Mussen brought up the idea with Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, associate general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Msgr. Bransfield suggested he talk with Msgr. Robert Panke, the rector of the Blessed John Paul II Seminary.
"I contacted him and asked if he had any thoughts on something that could honor the cardinal's vision," Mussen said. "He's the one who came up with Sedes Sapientiae."
Mussen started making some phone calls and doing some research.
"I help run the Catholic Union Store, so we know some companies that build statues, but there was none that was exactly what we were looking for," Mussen said. "So we had conversations about how big, and all that, and after doing some research, I chose Ferdinand Stuflesser."
Mussen said Cardinal Wuerl thought the idea was a good one. The statue was commissioned in Carrara marble from the Ferdinand Stuflesser company of Ortisei, Italy, whose artisans create beautiful work for the Vatican and churches around the world. All in white, the three-foot-high statue shows Our Lady with a reflective smile, closely holding the Infant Jesus.
Mussen is planning a trip to Washington with his wife for the Mass and dedication of the statue. Considerations include weather and the size of the statue and pedestal. Mussen said that he has been to Washington many times, but never to an event of this magnitude.
A similar statue stands in the Pontifical North American College library in Rome, where Cardinal Wuerl studied.
"The cardinal had a devotion to her, because it was such a part of his formation," Mussen said. "That's why he chose that, and where he's going to put it, because it's going to be for young men who are going to be priests. When he studied, it helped him."