Marijan’s prayer in stone will last a thousand years

Marijan Bekic demonstrating his sculpting process. Photo: Supplied.

From the Big Merino to the Big Pineapple, Australia loves its “big things.” Now the sculptor responsible for one of Australia’s newest “big things” is turning his talents to a new statue for at Our Lady of the Rosary parish at St Mary’s in Sydney’s west. 

Marijan Bekic, 71, created The Australian Farmer, an eight-metre granite statue that stands over the seaside rural town of Wudinna in South Australia. 

Locals say the serene figure completed in 2009 is a major tourist attraction and source of pride and Marijan is a “hidden jewel.”  

Up until now, only they have known the secret message carved into the crown of the “big farmer’s” head: “Thank you God.” 

“The head represents the sun and source of all life in sculpture. No one can see those words up there, but God can,” Bekic smiles. 

“Everyone asks for help from God when they need it, but we don’t always remember to say thank you.” 

His current labour of love will be a sign of God’s presence for thousands of motorists each day, who will see the statue of Our Lady praying the rosary Bekic is carving for his parish. 

Our Lady of the Rosary - The Catholic weekly
Marijan Bekic shows students of Our Lady of Fatima Primary School his sculpture of Our Lady for a parish artwork.

The artwork will depict Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance to three shepherd children, and her peaceful countenance will reach nearly three metres high in front of the church, facing busy Mamre Road. 

Born to a Croatian family in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bekic studied sculpture in Switzerland before emigrating to Adelaide with his wife Jasna and then-young family. 

His first Australian sculpture is a memorial to fishermen lost at sea at Port Lincoln. 

“Whole crews had even been lost, can you believe it?” he says, shaking his head. 

He’s grateful to parish priest Fr Brendan Murphy and the parish council, who have trusted him with the project, and to the Holy Spirit “which leads me in the right direction and whose presence I feel the whole time.” 

“This stone I dragged with me all the way from South Australia to Sydney without knowing what it would be used for, but God knew.” 

Fr Murphy says Bekic’s quiet daily work on the church grounds is a blessing, but Bekic says the honour is all his. 

The idea to craft the sculptures came while he was praying in its Eucharistic adoration chapel. 

“I love what I do and I’m praying for Our Lady’s protection of myself and my family,” Bekic said. 

The parish’s primary students were present when Fr Murphy blessed the large rocks in February.  

Our Lady of the Rosary - The Catholic weekly

They have followed the process while learning more about Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto above a small holm oak tree in the countryside in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. 

The statue of Our Lady and her holm oak base with relief carvings of sheep are now complete. Still to be carved before the artwork’s 13 October feast day blessing are the three children. 

Bekic begins each day with Mass before working on the Western Australian granite, only stopping at sunset or when teachers bring classes for a progress report. 

Fr Murphy said the Fatima story, in which Our Lady asked the visionaries to pray the Rosary to end World War I and convert Russia from communism, would have been part of the reason for the parish’s dedication to Our Lady of the Rosary in 1948. 

“Many parishioners would have come from eastern Europe with experience of communism in their countries and so there is obvious connection,” he said. 

The post Marijan’s prayer in stone will last a thousand years appeared first on The Catholic Weekly.

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