World's Largest Mary Statue
This is, in fact, not the world's largest Virgin Mary statue -- we've seen larger -- but it's still impressive. It is a representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose well-timed appearance in the 16th century helped the Conquistador Cortez to "convert 75,000 Aztec Indians from pagan rituals to Catholic worship," according to a news clipping hanging in the gift shop.
The Virgin Mary statue was the inspiration of Ed and Pat Heinz, on whose farm it stands, a testament to faith and to liberal building laws.
Ed, who worked at a nearby nuclear power plant, prayed for divine assistance in amassing the estimated $50,000 it would take to build Mary. His prayers were answered by Richard Hyslin, head of the art department at a Texas college, who agreed to donate his services for free. Until then, Hyslin's largest sculpture had been a 15-foot tall King Kong for a miniature golf course.
The statue was dedicated on August 5, 1995, and Hyslin did a good job. Mary, 33-feet tall, stands atop an angel and a cloud, which boosts her height to 50 feet.
Attached to the figure's back is something resembling the World's Largest Toaster Coil -- her holy radiance. It's made of metal, and during a violent thunderstorm in flat, northeastern Ohio, one requires unfaltering faith to linger for long.
Mary faces east -- a shutterbug challenge in the late afternoon, even without the lightning strikes creeping towards her. The statue surface is decorated with thousands of tiny mosaic tiles, richly colored, reminding us of the happy Krishna giants in West Virginia.
In front of Mary is a pond, surrounded by a giant strand of white rosary beads and a crucifix, which are lit at night. As with other large scale devotionals, it is hard to appreciate these from and earthly vantage point.
The most striking thing about this Mary is that she is out in the middle of nowhere, set so far back from the road that, for all of her largeness, she might easily be missed. Why do you hide your light beneath a bushel, Ohio?