I was sipping my espresso while praying lauds on my iBreviary when I looked around the special room reserved by the Collegio Filippino for the bishops, for a crucifix or an icon that could help me get focused. There on the window sill my attention was caught by a beautiful marble sculpture of the head of the Blessed Mother. I smiled at her and said inside me, “Pray with me, Mama Mary.” I was quite sure she did not mind my habit of praying my morning prayers with a cup of coffee. I call my daily lauds my “Coffee with Jesus”.

I stood up after my prayer to approach the piece of sculpture and look at it up close. Her face looked really serene, like she was in a state of contemplation. It reminded me of the passage repeated twice in Luke’s Gospel that says, “And Mary kept these things in her heart.”

I observed the dark grayish grains of the marble, noting the fine lines defining her hair, and the half-closed eyes. I said to myself, “If this piece of sculpture were made of wood and done in the Philippines, I know only one sculptor who would carve it—our own Willy Layug, my kabalen from Santa Ursula, Betis.

I closed my eyes and allowed my hands instead to appreciate this little work of art until my hands reached the left side of the sculpture’s base and felt something rough on the surface. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “This must be the artist’s signature.” I turned the sculpture to its side to allow the light from the window to cast a shadow on the inscription. There it was, the signature I was well-familiar with. It read “LAYUG, 2016, Carrara, Italy.”

How could I have forgotten that he told me about this, his first experiment on Carrara marble? I discovered it in prayer.


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