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Indonesia

Indonesian fishermen save Virgin Mary from the sea

Act of vandalism is being seen as an 'event of faith' by Catholics

Indonesian fishermen save Virgin Mary from the sea

Catholics pray in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary saved from the sea. (Photo: Handrianus Atagoran)

A statue of the Virgin Mary that was reportedly dumped in the sea by a mentally ill man in Indonesia was rescued from the sea by fishermen in an incident that has moved Catholics to look at it through the lens of faith.

The statue was found by two fishermen in a bay near Lewoleba off Lembata, an island just east of the Catholic-majority island of Flores in East Nusa Tenggara province, on Nov. 24.

A video recording the moment they retrieved the floating statue went viral on social media and became a widely discussed topic among Catholics.

Rudi Keraf, one of the fishermen who found the statue, said at first he thought it was driftwood and his first reaction was to ignore it.

"But then something told me differently. My heart said I had to go back. It turned out that what we found was a statue of the Virgin Mary," he told the news portal Kupang.tribunnews.com.

He said the statue was intact, in an upward position and in her hand was a rosary.

It's interesting that although people already know where the statue came from, Catholics see it as an event of faith

After lifting the statue onto the boat, he and his companion embraced it and prayed. "I was very moved. I am a sinner but I managed to find a sacred object," he said.

Handrianus Atagoran, a Catholic in Lembata, said it was discovered that the statue had come from the grave of a priest in a coastal village which was taken by a mentally ill man and thrown into the sea.

"It's interesting that although people already know where the statue came from, Catholics see it as an event of faith," he told UCA News.

"People are queuing to come and pray at the statue, which is currently in the house of the fisherman who found it."

Some consider this as a warning that the region will be hit by a natural disaster, he said, adding that most see it in a more positive light as a sign of providence.

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