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Give to the Max Day moves even those made of stone

Sisters of St. Francis hope to raise funds to restore statues at Assisi Heights.

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A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes has been at Assisi Heights since 1955 after being moved from the former Motherhouse on Center Street in downtown Rochester. Photo contributed by Sisters of St. Francis.

The statuary at Assisi Heights might be made of stone, but they’re still not harder than a few dozen Minnesota winters.

The statue of our Lady of Beauraing and the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes are in need of restoration work. The Sisters of St. Francis are asking for some solid donations during this year’s Give to the Max Day to help restore both.

On Thursday, thousands of nonprofits are asking donors to pitch in for the 13th annual Give to the Max Day . The day is a statewide holiday of giving organized by GiveMN.

ALSO READ: Rochester nonprofit strives to upend food insecurity

Last year, donors gave more than $30 million for the fifth straight record fundraising year.

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The sisters hope to raise enough to meet a $20,000 in matching donations from an anonymous donor . Repair work on the statues has already started.

For more than 60 years, the statues and grotto have weathered the outdoor elements.

The Our Lady of Beauraing was a gift from a Waseca, Minn., couple George and Berthe Herter. According to the inscription on the statue pedestal, the statue contains a piece of a tree that the Lady of Beauraing had touched. Berthe grew up in rural Beauraing, Belgium, according to June Howard, Assisi Heights director of mission advancement.

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Sisters of St. Francis pray to an Our Lady of Beauraing statue in July, 1963. Photo contributed by Sisters of St. Francis.

The stone surrounding the statue, and its mortar, has been eroding and needs repair to prevent further erosion. A stonemason consultant advised the sisters that the wall could collapse without repairs, Howard wrote in an appeal for funding.

The Our Lady of Lourdes was moved from the shrine at the former Motherhouse on Center Street in downtown Rochester and installed in a natural stone grotto at Assisi Heights in 1955.

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Lourdes statue 1963 Jul 01.jpg
Sisters of St. Francis pray to an Our Lady of Lourdes statue in July, 1963. Photo contributed by Sisters of St. Francis.

The consultant also advised that the Lady of Lourdes statue is unsafe for people to approach it, especially if younger people try to climb around it. However, the consultant concluded that restoration of the unique piece of statuary would be a worthwhile project.

Throughout Thursday, random donations will get surprise “bumps” in the amount donated, thanks in part to other donors supplying “prizes” for generosity.

Dozens of area organizations --from Channel One to the Sisters of St. Francis -- are making appeals for donations on Give to the Max Day. To see the requests and make a donation, go to www.givemn.org.

Donors don't need to wait until Thursday to support their favorite causes either. Early giving began Nov. 1. Donations are charged a 6.9% processing fee.

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