Mary at the Grotto Blessing

Updated: May 27



By Jasmine Willis


NORTH COHOCTON — The community gathered under the Grotto of the Pieta to worship and share testimony.


John Landino built the local grotto a few years ago, and ever since it has brought comfort to people all over the world.


On May 22 despite the rain there was an outpouring of support and fellowship at the Mary, Music, and Miracles festival.


Landino opened up the event with thanks to those who came to witness.


“I love seeing all of you people here. That is the first miracle. You have come because you believe. This is the first miracle. I am overwhelmed to see all of you come out,” he said. “What possesses a 75-year-old man to begin building a shrine with a statue of the Pieta in the middle. God speaks to all of us if we listen. It is a divine inspiration and payback to God for everything I ever had. Jesus is here along with his Blessed Mother. I know Jesus is here, because in the gospel it says wherever two or three are gathered in my name there am I in your midst.”


Landino read a story about a miracle that happened involving a young man who survived a motorcycle accident.


Fr. John Gathenya of the Holy Family Parish gave an opening prayer. He finished the ceremony with a blessing over all who came to the festival.


“As we honor the Blessed Mother on this event let us pray for her guidance. Through her intersection we may open a path in our hearts and in our lives. We pray for the gift of peace and the gift of healing. May the name of Mary be praised today and always,” he said. “Our Lord Jesus Christ the son reigns forever with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”


Nancy Reigelsperger read off Psalm 23 and the Irish Blessing for the festival.



Jim Feely read off a testimony linked to Saint Anthony and his father.


“John Landino is the builder, architect and caretaker of this wonderful grotto. I am here to give a witness talk in devotion to Saint Anthony. John met my father before he passed who told him of his devotion to Saint Anthony. Within the catholic tradition Saint Anthony is known for being the patron saint of lost things. Saint Anthony was born in the 12th century, and tradition upholds that after losing a significant book of devotions he prayed for its return. He found the handwritten valuable book of devotions. My father grew up in a devote catholic home and knew to pray to Saint Anthony when something of value became lost,” he said.


Feely talked about his father losing a piece off the farm equipment when he was working on a family farm. He found that piece in the field. Feely added that when he needed to find his son’s lost glasses in a stream, he prayed to Saint Anthony. Among all the rocks and weeds he found his son’s glasses so he could see.


United Church of Warsaw Pastor Katrina Macalusa gave a bit of history on grottos and shared a prayer with the faithful. Michelangelo was commissioned to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.


“The resulting work called the Pieta would be so successful it would help launch his career. Michelangelo carved the Pieta out of a single block of marble. He claimed it was the most perfect block of marble he ever worked with. He claimed he could see the sculpture within the marble itself. It was his job to free the image inside,” she said. “It was the only work he signed to his name. He carved it at 22 years old.”


Kathy Bawel came to praise at the music festival. She plays with the Holy Family Parish and is a member of United Church of Warsaw.


“I love the Landino’s dearly and this is my gift to them. I met him two years ago when he called me up out of the blue. He called me up and asked to come play for the dedication,” she said. “I thought this event went beautifully, but it was sad to see people dwindle away in the rain. The message was there and it was a beautiful message. Our closing song was you will never walk alone through the wind and the rain. The selection of music was meant to feeling uplifting to those who feel lost or alone lately. We did a wide range of show tunes and catholic music.”


The songs included; Ave Maria, No One is Alone, The Prayer, What a Wonderful World, I Believe, You Raise Me Up, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.


Carina Telesca sang most of the songs through the rain. Jerry Howe, Lynn Saxton Katrina Macaluso, Mollie Flanagan, Jim Carter, and Gabriella Telesca provided music as well. All members of United Church of Warsaw Choir.

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