By Jasmine Willis
NORTH COHOCTON — The Grotto of the Pieta is having a religious musical event on May 22.
A local man inspired thousands when he built a local shrine on his property unlike anything ever seen.
John Landino, of Rowe Road built a holy shrine he called: Grotto of The Pieta across the street from his historic homestead.
The shrine shows Mother Mary holding Jesus in her arms after the cross. It took about six years to complete and has inspired many locals, out of towners, and people around the world.
On May 22 there will be a religious festival to honor Mother Mary and have several professional artists in attendance. The program starts at 2 p.m. and social distancing will apply on the three-acre field. If you are interested in this historical faithful event bring your own chair.
Landino said there has been a huge turnout with the faithful coming to view the shrine. He created a welcome sign at the bottom of the hill to make everyone aware they are able to see the shrine anytime.
“I have traveled all over Europe and seen many shrines. I never saw a shrine like this one here. I have added a bronze plaque that tells when it was built and who built it. I have added Marigold Flowers at the base of the statue since these are the Heart of Mother Mary flowers. I wanted to show the heart of the shrine,” Landino said.
Landino hopes this turnout will be bigger than the one he had two years ago to bless the shrine.
“The enthusiasm around this shrine is huge. We got about 20 people involved in putting this event together. We are creating a contemporary religious musical celebration all related to Mother Mary,” he said. “We will have about 13 songs sung by great artists. It will be like a church service and a community blessing. We have Katrina Macaluso coming to sing with the Warsaw Choir. We will have Kathy Bawel and Carina Telesca singing at this event too.”
Holy Family Parish Fr. John Gathenya will be handling the ceremony. The celebration is about honoring God.
“It is a nice place to sit and have peace with God. I think we as Christians need this more now than ever before,”Landino said. “Christians are being persecuted all over nowadays. With all of this political climate trying to take this away from us; it is important to remind people that these things have meaning. A lot of people are afraid to admit they have Christianity.”
There will be a communal anointment of the sick after the music.
“There has never been anything like this before. I have chosen specific songs that will leave people emotional. I have been working on this event for six months. A woman from Greece told me this is a world class artistic expression of God’s amazing love. That is one of the best comments I have gotten on it,” Landino said.
Landino made it clear with the giant statue showcasing his faith that he is putting his Christianity on display for the entire world. He wants to make it clear that he is not praying to the statue. The statue represents a symbol of his faith. He comes up here to reflect on God.
The Grotto of the Pieta was inspired by his religious Italian grandmother who used to take him to the famous grotto at the St. Michaels Mission in Conesus. Sadly, that grotto is in ruins now and all the statues have been removed. It was a very holy place many years ago to so many of the faithful.
Landino attributes this latest achievement to his Italian grandmother who was a very religious woman. This religion was carried on with he and his brothers as they grew hearing her stories. She would take them to St. Michael’s Mission in Conesus to show them the grottos they had placed along the hill. This image stuck with Landino all through his life.
“I guess you could say this goes back to my youth. My grandmother was a very religious woman who came here from Italy. She would show my brothers and I the smaller Grottos on Hemlock Hill at the St. Michael’s Mission. Some of these moments just influence you throughout your life,” he said. “When I purchased this home and property the entire area was covered in stones and trees. Rose (Landino) would go around collecting the stones. I took a lot of them and some from the farmers field next to us to make this.”
Landino praised all the musicians coming out for the event as being gifted and helpful in making this come true.
“I heard from a lot of people that they felt bad they missed the last holy event. I have chosen to honor Mother Mary since May is the month of Mary. This is not just a catholic event. I believe people from all over will be blessed by it,” he said.
The shrine is meant to be a special place for people to come and have a moment with God. It is a symbol of faith. It brings some light in the seemingly darker world we find ourselves in these days.
“Faith comes from your very foundation. When you come from a family who practiced their faith religiously it shows. My family all came from Italy and brought that faith with them to America. This sort of faith doesn’t happen anymore,” Landino said.
Mary at the Grotto will be held on May 22 at 2 p.m. It will be on May 29 at 2p.m. for the rain day. The location is 11763 County Rd. 38 (Rowe Road) in Wayland. They ask to bring your own chair or blanket to sit on at the event. There will be light refreshments available.