Work has begun to move the statue from St. Adalbert’s Church to another parish

Work began over the weekend to uproot a statue inside a closed but beloved church in Pilsen and install it in another parish a few blocks away, surprising neighbors and those who are fought to keep the church more than a century old.

The plan is to remove an exact marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta – which depicts the body of Jesus in the lap of his mother, Mary, after the crucifixion – from St. Adalbert’s Church, 1650 W. 17th St .and move it to St. Petersburg. Paul’s Catholic Church, 2127 W. 22nd Place, the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement Tuesday.

An 8-by-10-foot section of the exterior east wall of the church will need to be removed to obtain the statue. The archdiocese said the parish had consulted with engineers “who determined this was the safest way to remove the statue”, adding that “the hole will be closed as soon as possible”.

The replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta inside St. Adalbert’s Church photographed in 1974.

But work is currently on hold due to issues with the permit, which were discovered after concerned neighbors called police on Saturday when crews showed up and began removing bricks from the church, according to Ald . Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

Officers arrived on site and questioned workers, who produced a permit, said Julie Sawicki, president of the Saint-Adalbert Society, who spoke with neighbors. However, work was halted because the permit allowed removal of a section of the west exterior wall, not the east, according to Sawicki and Sigcho-Lopez.

Sigcho-Lopez said his office was not notified when the permit was issued by the Department of Buildings on July 20 “despite multiple attempts to connect with the archdiocese so that we could have a discussion about the work to that we can properly inform residents.”

“We want to make sure this is done in accordance with due process,” he said, adding that his office had called for work to stop while permit issues were sorted out and they got more. information.

St. Adalbert was built by Polish immigrants in the early 1900s and opened to parishioners in 1914. It was announced in 2016 that the church would close and on July 14, 2019, St. Adalbert held its last mass . His parishioners were merged. with Saint Paul.

The church needed extensive and costly repairs which were cited by the archdiocese as factors in the decision to close. It has since been deteriorating.

Sigcho-Lopez launched an effort to reduce the St. Adalbert area from residential to public space earlier this year, a move he says would ensure the community has a say in what happens. at the church.

Sawicki, who has fought for years to protect the church, said she does not want the church taken down while the future of the site hangs in the air.

“Don’t loot it, don’t loot it,” Sawicki said. “These are precious works of art, there are many things inside the church that are precious works of art. It is very painful.

She also criticized the archdiocese for trying to make changes to the church without properly informing the community.

“It’s just amazing to me how cheeky it is,” Sawicki said. “The damage that’s been done, what they’ve done so far, is the city going to pay for it? And the bricks that were removed, where are those bricks — are they kept? Can they be, you know, put back together? I am flabbergasted.

Sawicki said the church represents the achievements of immigrants in the city and changing the site also means changing the fabric of the community. She hopes nothing else will be taken from the church.

“We don’t want to lose the murals, we don’t want to lose the Pieta, we don’t want to lose the stained glass. We don’t want to lose any of that. »

Maria D. Ervin