updated 11/18/2009 2:34:34 PM ET 2009-11-18T19:34:34

Operators of a Catholic shrine in Maryland thought they had been blessed with a big donation this month when a worker found $40,000 worth of rare coins on the grounds.

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But officials at Mount St. Mary's University said Wednesday that the bags of money had only been left at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes for safekeeping.

Shrine Director William Tronolone said the owner returned to retrieve them about a week later, on Nov. 16.

The unidentified owner told him she wanted the Blessed Virgin Mary to watch over her treasure while she was out of town.

Tronolone says the school's security chief persuaded the woman to put the coins in her bank safe deposit box.

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