In the late 1940s, Bishop Bartholomew J. Eustace invited the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., to open the first Catholic hospital in the Camden Diocese, which would later become Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. The sisters gave the Our Lady of Lourdes statue to the medical center as part of the project.
During its early construction, a cable failure almost sent the statue’s head falling seven stories to the ground. After crews rescued and restored the top of the statue, the hospital’s first administrator, Sister Mary Paracleta, wrote a note of blessings and placed it inside the head asking Our Lady to protect the city and its residents. The note was sewn into X-ray film to protect it. Bishop Eustace also placed a small relic of St. Francis inside the head to further protect the statue and the city of Camden.
The Our Lady of Lourdes statue was raised to the top of the hospital on March 21, 1949 — a year before the hospital was completed.
The statue stands 30 feet high and weighs 15 tons.
The statue’s halo is 3 feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds. The flashing halo once served as a beacon for passing aircrafts.
The Our Lady of Lourdes statue is one of the highest points in Camden and one of the largest religious statues in the country.