A woman quietly left $40,000 worth of rare U.S. coins near a Catholic shrine for safekeeping so the Virgin Mary could watch over her life savings while she was out of town, and apparently it worked: The money was returned to her when she got back a week later.
Operators of the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes near Emmitsburg thought they had been blessed with a big donation when a groundskeeper found the two plastic freezer bags filled with gold and silver while raking leaves.
But Shrine Director William Tronolone said the woman approached him after a noon Mass Sunday, six days after the discovery, to ask whether anyone had found some coins she had hidden beneath fallen leaves at the site on the campus of Mount St. Mary's University.
"I said, 'Why did you leave it there?' And she said, 'Well, I had to go away and I was afraid to leave it and I wanted the Blessed Mother to watch over it for me — and evidently she did because you found it,"' Tronolone said.
By then, university officials had had the coins appraised, notified police and placed the money in a safe while awaiting word from investigators.
Tronolone refused to identify the woman. He said she had been out of town about a week.