St. Norbert College
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Main Hall statue  
Thanks to some quick thinking and donated labor, a statue of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, now occupies a Main Hall niche that has remained empty for more than 100 years.
December 2006

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The perfect fit

A niche on the front elevation of Main Hall that has stood empty for more than 100 years now houses an exalted tenant.

Thanks to the generosity of a contractor who was renovating the roof of the building, a statue of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, was safely lifted into place this fall.

The statue, gift of student organizations in 1954, formerly stood on a pedestal outside Burke Hall. Originally a focal point, this site had become more obscure as the campus continued to develop.

The statue’s deteriorating condition concerned the Rev. Jay Fostner, O.Praem., ’84, vice president for mission and heritage. He hoped to remove the figure to a location that would be both safer and more prominent. But he had no funds to pay for the move and was considering placing the statue in safe storage.

Instead, the Rev. James Neilson, O.Praem., ’88 (Art) urged him to move the statue to the "Mary Niche." He argued that the niche was originally designed for a statue of St. Norbert or of the Virgin. Since a major figure of Norbert was already a feature of the campus, it would be appropriate for Mary to occupy the space.

The Norbertines in the United States have a special devotion to Mary, as does the Catholic Church, so her placement in a prominent place overlooking campus would be very appropriate, Neilson said. In fact, the six-and-a-half-foot tall Mary statue fits the niche perfectly, finishing the front of Main Hall.

The cost remained prohibitive until Mike Van Drisse, manager of maintenance services, called Fostner to say that contractors from Whitefield Roofing of Green Bay would, that day, have equipment on campus that would allow the statue to be moved. Owner Terry Whitefield had offered to donate the work, and the transfer went smoothly.

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