Our Lady of Brokenness

Our Lady of Brokenness, Pray For Us!

Photo by Lisa A. Schmidt

When I first spotted her, Our Lady of Grace that is, I immediately noticed her broken-off left hand. It greatly bothered and disrupted my sense of order. Our perfect and flawless Mother was missing her left hand. Not very becoming for our Immaculata, the one who bore our Lord and Savior. But there she was, Our Lady of Brokenness.

She stands, appropriately, next to Marian Hall on the grounds of Conception Abbey. Why can’t one of the monks properly restore her hand? Or at least lay her to rest with a prayerful burial of sorts and replace her with a new, perfectly polished, and well … not broken statue?

I walked on by, but that image of Mary in her brokenness rested with me throughout the remainder of my visit at the Abbey. I continued to think about broken Mary, and I realized she was precisely the image I needed.

I’m a lifelong Catholic; perhaps relapsed is a better way to put it. In all these years of being a practicing Catholic, it has really been just in the past few years or so when I finally developed a closer, consistent relationship with Mary. And that’s still a great work in progress. It took feeling all broken and beat up, desperate for help, before I really laid it all before her feet.

I showed Joel these and more photos I took of Our Lady of Brokenness, and he told me a similar story from our friends Nathan and RyAnn Carr from Immaculate Hope Ministries. The Carrs are the husband and wife team who Joel has worked with on developing a pregnancy/infant loss retreat for our diocese. During that retreat, the Carrs set out a statue of Mary. She wasn’t in great form, either, battered and bruised from weathering the Midwestern winter elements. Joel told me they, too, called her Our Lady of Brokenness. Then Joel pulled his science geek card on me and mentioned when two science labs come to the same conclusions independently, it strongly suggests they are on to something.

Maybe the Carrs and I are on to something?

Mary, Our Lady of Brokenness, pray for us!


Photo by Lisa A. Schmidt

Copyright 2016 Lisa A. Schmidt


About Author

Lisa Schmidt writes at ThePracticingCatholic.com with her husband Joel. A proud Iowan, the Schmidts reside in Des Moines where Lisa is a full-time at-home mom. She also supports her husband in his deacon ministries for the Diocese of Des Moines. At The Practicing Catholic, Lisa enjoys writing about the things that bring her great joy: the Catholic faith, her family, fine arts, and good food.


  1. Lisa, seeing this beautiful picture and reading this struck a chord within me because only in recent days, I have been reading on the history of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague. The original statue also lost its hands. One day, as a holy priest bowed in veneration before it, he heard the words…Give Me My hands and I will give you peace, and from there commenced a ‘vine of miracles’.

    But even as I read those words, I wondered if another way to interpret it would be to give the statue its hands by being those hands. To give hands by reaching out pressing love into wounds – through word, prayer and deed. Perhaps, a statue in its seeming imperfection of brokenness is the perfect call to me to leave my comfort zone, my circle of inwardness, to go forth and bring His Mercy where it is most needed.

    • Hi Caitlynne! Thank you so much for sharing that story about the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague with me. I had not heard it before, and now I want to read up on it. Your insights are particularly beautiful. Thank you for sharing and blessing my day! 🙂

    • Thank you Lisa and Caitlynne, I too have been struck by the image and felt that if we could only be Her left hand what a different world we would be living in today.
      Our Lady Of Brokenness, please show us how to be your left hand in this world!

  2. I love this so much. It goes to the heart of what is true of Mary, I think: that even though we are used to seeing her look as serene as a swan, gliding effortlessly upon the surface of life, she dealt with very, very hard things and no doubt felt “roughed up by life” at times. No matter how much we know we are loved by God, there are times when life just hurts. I think maybe more people would connect with Mary if we acknowledged how hard her life was at many points. Thanks so much for sharing this image and story!

  3. How beautiful! As, I was reading this I thought to myself, that’s exactly what I need to cling to, Our Lady of Brokenness, it made my heart skip a beat. I’m going to stand with you in thinking you’re on to something.

  4. Thank you, Lisa, and those who shared comments about Our Lady of Brokeness. This morning I was sharing with my children my experience of the shared suffering with my husband in his illness. It is a heavy cross. My human brokeness cannot bear the weight. Yet an abundance of Grace Our Lady gives us as we take Her hand and Her Yes to Jesus. As her left hand shows an image of brokeness, Her right hand shows us perpetual grace. Holy Mother, lay your hands gently upon us.

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