Thirty-six young men who attended or graduated from Siena gave their lives to defend democracy in World War II. 

They and 10 of their Siena brothers who came back from the war are memorialized on a bronze plaque that now hangs in the entryway to St. Mary of the Angels Chapel. This plaque was the focal point of the College’s original Grotto, which was dedicated in May 1947 on the front lawn of campus.

The plaque, too precious a part of the College’s history to be put in storage, was moved decades later to the Chapel. A relative of one of the honorees recently visited Siena and pointed out to Campus Ministry that the plaque was looking dingy and the hallowed names were hard to read. Siena’s carpentry team attended to the matter right away, taking down the (extremely heavy) plaque and delivering it to O’Donnell Custom Finishes in Leeds, N.Y. for complete restoration. 

From William Allendorph to Edward A. Zech, the names of the servicemen have now been restored to their original golden luster.  

Siena’s first shrine, called the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, was the dream of Fr. John Weaver, O.F.M., who served the College as spiritual director during the 1940s. The parents of the students who gave their lives in military service were invited to the dedication service, which was attended by students, faculty, friars and military representatives. 

The Italian marble statue of Mary that once graced the original Grotto is now part of the new Grotto on the eastern side of campus, which was dedicated in 2014.