Like a silent, multi-colored sentinal, she has stood guard on the western shore of Lake Sagatagan for the past fifty-five years. During that time her simple beauty has drawn students and faculty, alumni and not a few visitors to campus. She has cast her brilliant rainbow on many and much over the years -- from first-year students' homesick tears to proposals of marriage, and from last-minute cramming for finals to this Iowa boy's first taste of brie and burgundy.
It was Mrs. Catherine Smith of Escanaba, MI, who first envisioned the statue, and she then sponsored, designed and executed the shrine as a gift to the Abbey and University. Then one of the monks constructed its sturdy foundation out of Cold Spring granite; and in 1960 Abbot Baldwin Dworschak blessed the completed project. Ever since then it has been an iconic and treasured landmark on campus.
Not long ago an alumnus sat by the Sag to enjoy a quiet picnic on a bench near the statue. After only a few bites into his Bo Diddley's sandwich, he noticed that Our Lady had seen better days. Over the many years of exposure to extreme temperatures and the odd vandal, she had begun to shed some of her stained glass. Her foundation required tuck-pointing. Her halo housed a community of grass spiders. By the time he had finished his sub and chips, he had called his wife and they had agreed to underwrite the statue's restoration. They then relayed their offer to a staff member in the Office of Institutional Advancement, and in a short time the restoration ball was rolling.
The effort was every bit a local affair, and stained glass expert Gary Terhaar of Cold Springs' TerHaar Stained Glass Studio soon was on the scene. Gary's father, Fred, had been an architectural designer, and it was he who had founded the studio in 1960. Fred had learned his craft and had cultivated a love of glass while working as an apprentice on the famed windows of the Abbey and University church. Some twenty years later his son Gary had proposed to his wife Rebecca next to the statue, and it was Gary who lovingly restored the shrine to its former glory.
Today Our Lady once again greets the dawn over the Sagatagan; and thanks to an observant and generous alumnus and his CSB-alumna wife, Our Lady will continue to cast her glorious light for decades to come. And when time and the Minnesota temperatures once again take their toll, as they always do, this couple has already indicated that they plan to fund the project once again.
Whether it's a $2,500 statue restoration or a $25,000,000 Alcuin Library/learning commons renovation, our loyal alumni and cherished friends continue to step forward with the critically-important support to ensure our precious campus landmarks are here for generations yet to come.