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St. Adalbert’s La Pieta statue moved after months of protests

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Covered in a bright blue tarp and tied with an orange harness, the La Pieta statue was removed from Pilsen’s historic St. Adalbert’s Church and loaded onto a flatbed truck on Tuesday morning. The car remained for 30 minutes before the protesters were taken into custody by the Chicago Police Department.

A replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta statue, depicting Mary embracing the body of Jesus on her knees after being crucified. After months of protests from neighbors, parishioners and other advocates who claimed the statue was a beloved relic of the history of the closed church, the statue was finally removed.

The Archdiocese of Chicago told the Tribune that the statue will be moved to St. Paul’s Catholic Church, about a mile southwest of St. Adalbert, which closed in 2019. Removal of the statue was originally scheduled for October, but was postponed due to permit issues. allowed to open.

As the statue was moved to the truck, a bystander, Rosa Ibanez, saw the workers and cried out.

A former parishioner, Ibanez called the church the “focal point” of the community. “This is bad. They’re stealing from the church,” she added.

“Protect her like we did,” another onlooker, Judy Vasquez, yelled as workers lifted the statue into a waiting truck.

A wrapped and anchored La Pieta statue rests on a flatbed truck in front of St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Chicago November 29, 2022.

Vazquez led a small group of protesters to form a human chain I prayed in front of the truck moving the statue before police detained some of them. The truck then left as neighbors came out to watch the commotion.

Se llevaron a la Virgencita‘ said a passerby in Spanish. They took the Virgin Mary.

Police later said charges were pending against the five protesters who were detained.

Vazquez and other members of the Rosary Group of St. Adalbert have been watching over the church property while waiting for construction to begin.Vazquez said he arrived at the scene at 6 a.m.

“We will remain vigilant to be there,” Vazquez previously told the Tribune. “We will continue to challenge ourselves.”

In August, workers began removing some of the brickwork on the church’s east exterior wall. The work was stopped because they did not have the proper permits for the work.

Since then, attempts to preserve the church and the beloved replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta have united communities in Poland, Spain and England. In October, about 40 people braved the cold to voice their concerns and protest the removal of the sculpture.

According to a past statement by the Archdiocese of Chicago, “parishioners will be able to access services earlier and enjoy the sculpture better in their new home.” It could be better protected and preserved.”

Chicago police arrest a protester who refused to move from the front of a truck preparing to transport the La Pieta statue from St. Adalbert's Catholic Church in Chicago on November 29, 2022.

The permit confirms the worst fears of advocates like Pilsen resident Dahlia Radekky, a former Chicago public school teacher and revival project volunteer.

Radecki lives near the church, and she and other community members used to watch the carving day and night for 40 days.

“Some of us used to sleep in cars and trucks in the cold, guarding the Pieta, which is so sacred to us,” she said last month. It will be a very sad and traumatic day for many of us, miracles can happen.”

Rudecki said he wanted church leaders to be more transparent about their intentions, and shared concern about the church being completely demolished in the future.

“We have dreams and we have hopes,” she said. “Why don’t the Archdiocese come to talk to us? They are God’s people and they don’t talk to us.”

St. Adalbert Catholic Church is located at 1650 West 17th Street in the Pilsen district. The church he first built in 1874 and was rebuilt in 1912 after a fire. The place has long maintained its Polish roots, but Polish immigrants have since dispersed from Pilsen and now boasts a large community of Latino immigrants.

Julie Sawicki, president of the Society of St. Adalbert, sees the church as representing faith and history, values ​​shared by the two groups. As the daughter of her Polish immigrants, she said it was her “duty” to honor those who came before her.

“This church is one of their achievements and it needs to be protected and celebrated as an example of what immigrants are contributing to our society,” she said.

Even after the parish held its final Mass in 2019 in a trilingual service, St. Adalbert’s Society and other community groups rallied to revive the church as a sacred place. Cardinal Blas Kupich attributes the church’s closure to a declining parish population and at least his $3 million renovation costs.

“It should be condemned on every level,” Sawicki said. “It’s sad that people can’t give up their personal interests just because the land is precious.”

According to Sawicki, the church is listed on the city’s “orange” list as a historic landmark of architectural significance. However, she has asked the city to designate the church as a landmark so it can be protected with stricter protection.

She said the statue’s Carrara marble was mined from the same quarry that Michelangelo used for the original Pietà.

Aldo. Sigcho Lopez, who represents Pilsen, has petitioned the city for its classification, she said. I called to meet about my concerns.

After three and a half years of work, Sawicki says there has been no progress.

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“We’re here in 2022 and we’re not on the mark yet,” she said. “Things like this are at risk because politics is more important than saving something that’s a jewel to the city of Chicago.”

For Schiller Park resident Irene Moskal-Del Giudice, the thought of repealing the law brought tears to her eyes.

Although she doesn’t live in the neighborhood, the history of the church resonates with Moskal del Giudice, Polish ancestry and former president of the Illinois chapter of the Polish American Conference.

She remembers visiting St. Adalbert just before closing and being struck by its beauty.

“That church is a beautiful reminder of all we’ve worked for,” she said. “This church is so beautiful and so inspiring. All of it touches your heart.

With the statue removed, she is a firm believer in preserving the sculpture she said herself represented the Mother of God.

“We pray to the Blessed Mother, we see her in the statue,” she said. “We see her in her mind. To remove her pieta is to remove our heart.”

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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