By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The journey took over six years to complete, but the message prevailed in the crowd that gathered for the Blessing of the Grotto of the Pieta on Aug. 16.
John Landino, of Wayland had been inspired since his childhood by his religious upbringing to build something to honor his faith.
On Aug. 16 Very Rev. Stephen Karani, Rev. Eugene LaVerdiere, Rev. Daniel Slattery, Soloist Ann Pender, John and Linda Mattei were part of the Solemn Blessing of the Grotto of the Pieta. The 13th Station of the Cross, The Way of the Cross according to Luke, At the Cross Her Station Keeping, The Rite of Blessing, reading from the Gospel of John 19: 25-42, Psalm 113, and Antiphon, Prayer of Blessing, and Concluding Rite were given in the ceremony.
Landino gave the opening remarks talking about faith, family, and the importance of the Grotto of the Pieta.
“I am honored to have all of you here. I am really amazed and pleased. Jesus said where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in your midst. So, we also welcome Jesus to our celebration. Pride is one of my many many weaknesses. I have to have a lot of pride to show off my work. I have no other way to do it. I am not showing off me. I am showing off my Christianity,” Landino said. “I thank you to Father Stephen for doing the blessing. I have to thank my wife Rosemarie for putting up with me the last 59 years, and especially the last six years in building this grotto.”
“Our Christian faith is under assault around the world, so it is important for each of us to be proud of our Christianity. Spreading the good news is a necessity now more than ever in my whole lifetime. I have been very blessed in my lifetime. The shrine is for everyone to use. We welcome you to come out and pray anytime. We want you all to feel welcome to come out and be alone with God,” Landino continued. “We see people on a regular basis who come here to do just that. I do believe in divine inspiration to guide me. You can’t do something of this magnitude without someone behind the celebration. I will end with a poem I have used many times for other people, but today it is my turn. An 11-year-old girl stitched this poem in 1845. I just will add my name. John Landino is my name, America is my nation, Cohocton is my home, Christ is my Salvation, When I am dead and, in my grave,, and all my bones are rotten, if this shrine you see, remember me, when I am long forgotten. Let the miracles begin.”
Very Rev. Stephen gave The Way of the Cross and the meaning of the image.
“Jesus after his death was placed in the arms of his mother. She held his body close to her heart. We cannot forget she was obviously in pain in that moment. She probably was reflecting on the words of Jesus, especially as he had preached about his upcoming death. She would have reflected on these words’ The Son of Man is to be handed over to man, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’ Mary reflected on this in a spirit of hope. That even after death her son would rise again. The hope of the resurrection kept her spirit going even as she grieved,” he said. “What lessons do we learn here today and what we celebrate here today as we perform this Rite of Blessing. The image that is before us here. The Pieta. Or the Blessed Mother of Jesus. This is an image of hope to those of us who are believers. In these days we know life can seem hopeless and helpless. Many times, when we face challenges in our lives we need something to hold onto.”
“In our case, it is always our faith in Jesus Christ. This is also an image that reflects a life of love. In love we can overcome suffering, pain and even death. This image for us is love shared that can overcome even the greatest of all pains. The pain of losing someone we love. The pure love of God is what helps get us through those times,” Very Rev. Stephen continued. “This is also an image of faith in the plan that God has for every one of us. God had a plan for his son Jesus Christ. God had a plan for Mary his Mother. God has a plan for all of us. God fulfils the plan for each of us. The plan for each of us is that at the end of our lives we will all come to dwell in Heaven His eternal kingdom. That is God’s plan for us. No matter how much pain and suffering and loss we go through in life.”
The ceremony was a reminder of the strong faith that rests in the valley of this region. Anyone interested in visiting the Grotto of the Pieta for reflection or prayer may do so across from the Historic Landino/Rowe House on Rowe Road (County Road 38) in Wayland. The location is 11763 County Rd. 38 (Rowe Road) in Wayland.