With weather forecasters projecting Hurricane Irma will hit landfall this week, and projections include Florida; prayers are needed to divert the storm out to sea.

“The Hurricane Lady” statue on display at the Father Miguel O’Reilly House in St. Augustine.

It is told that a sea captain on a cargo ship traveling from Spain in the 1800s was near Florida when a storm arose. The storm hit the ship, and the captain and his crew began throwing things overboard to lighten its load. The crew discovered a statue of the Madonna in the hold of the ship. No one on board remembered seeing it loaded and the statue didn’t have a tag on it indicating who the owner was.

The crew knelt down and said a little prayer:

“Dear Lady, if you will get us safely into port, we will place your statue with the first Christian family we meet.”

After the winds subsided, the ship limped into the port of St. Augustine. The captain kept his promise and the statue, known as the Hurricane Lady, has been passed down to families of St. Augustine for many years.

One of the traditions that remain today is to pray to the Hurricane Lady (one of many titles for the Blessed Mother) to ward away storms. The Sisters of St. Joseph have maintained the statue since the 1980s at their Father Miguel O’Reilly House Museum, 32 Aviles Street in St. Augustine.