Chosen by Mary: Short Film Tells Benedictine’s Story
, February 25, 2019
Benedictine College’s new short film Lemke: A Founder’s Miracle tells the story of Father Henry Lemke being saved on a Kansas night when he prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Watch above or click here.)
The film debuted online today after being previewed at the Scholarship Ball on Feb. 23. Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis told attendees at the event:
“This film I hope gives you some insight as to why we believe that Benedictine is a chosen place — chosen by the Blessed Virgin Mary to be here at this special place and chosen by her to be as successful as we are.”
Father Henry Lemke wrote in his memoirs about an 1856 incident where he was lost in a storm and prayed for Mary’s intercession. As soon as he said the prayer, a light appeared on the horizon. He stumbled toward it and found that it was a lantern hanging in the window of a cottage.
The mother and daughter who lived in the cottage sheltered him and told him that a lady dressed in white had appeared to the child in the night. This had awakened the mother, who hung the lantern.
Wrote Lemke: “O, you dearest Mother of God, it was through the pure and unsullied soul of a child that you effected that the mother would place a lamp in the window just about the very time when I was calling out for help because I feared for my life. The Mother of God worked a miracle.”
Two years later, Benedictine College was founded and the “lady dressed in white” appeared to another little girl in a small town — St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France. The college built a Marian grotto to celebrate the college’s connection to Lourdes.
“Filming this story of Mary’s intercession gave me new respect for what the Benedictines went through in bringing the Gospel to my hometown,” said Nathan Pickman, the college’s Digital Media Manager and the video’s creator.
“Working on even a short film like this was eye opening,” he said. “A lot of work goes into this! But it was also eye opening to think about how much work Father Lemke had to do to establish my community of Benedictine monks in Kansas. His story is truly inspirational.”
Father Gabriel added: “As a fellow Lutheran convert, I am especially inspired by his story.”
To the right, see the portion of the film shot at Missouri Town 1855 in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
The Storm Promise
Not shown in the film are additional comments on the incident by Father Lemke, who was a Lutheran minister before converting and becoming a Catholic priest.
“Up to this point my honoring of Mary had been rather tepid, maybe even cold,” he said. “On this occasion, however, I called to her in fervent prayer, asking that I would not be allowed to come to an end out here so miserably unprepared.”
A history of St. Benedict’s Abbey reports that Father Lemke promised: “If you help me out of this difficulty, I shall always call on you.”
The Founder’s Storm Promise has been fulfilled many times over through the years, both by St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison and Mount St. Scholastica, the Benedictine sisters of Atchison.
On Sept. 8, 2013, Father James Albers OSB, the abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, consecrated the college to the Blessed Virgin Mary with an act co-signed by Sister Anne Shepard OSB, who at that time was the prioress of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison. The college promotes individual consecration to Mary on campus every year, as well as a daily rosary at Mary’s Grotto, and a Wednesday morning Rosary led by the president and dean of the college.
This year, President Minnis dubbed the college’s most successful football team ever “Mary’s Team” for its key players’ commitment to the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration. Click here to read more of Mary’s Miracles at Benedicitne College.
Just 40 years after Benedictine College was founded, the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia commented on the significance of what Father Lemke had done.
Said the historical society:
“Under the ways of Providence, Father Lemke’s self-imposed exile from home and friends, and his sad days of tribulation were the means of bringing religious comfort and consolation to thousands unborn; for out of them grew the project of establishing a Benedictine monastery in Kansas.”
Never miss a post! Subscribe below to our weekly newsletter.