Statue honoring victims of deadly Our Lady of the Angels school fire returns to original home

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A statue honoring the victims of a terrible fire was returned to Our Lady of the Angels church in Chicago.

The 400-pound Carrara marble statue was transported Tuesday with reverence and great care through neighborhoods on Chicago's West Side.

The statue of Mary was commissioned as a memorial for those who died in Our Lady of the Angels School fire in 1958, when 92 children and three sisters died.

WATCH: School fire survivor recalls terrifying ordeal 60 years later
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Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the Our Lady Of Angels school fire in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, which claimed 95 lives.



"Huge flame shot right out from where I was standing," survivor Larry Sorce recalled. "Twenty-four of my classmates were dead or dying on the ground."

The statue was returned to her original home mounted on the Chicago Fire Department's Truck 26 and was escorted by six other units.

The revelations from that fire led to safety reforms in all schools.

SEE ALSO | Chicago marks 60th anniversary of Our Lady of the Angels fire

"Out of a horrible, horrible thing that happened 64 years ago, we are also thankful that somehow, some good came from this," survivor Annette Szafran said.

According to some of the survivors, one of the survivors apparently took the statue to Holy Family for safekeeping years ago when Our Lady of the Angels was closing. Survivor Rosalie O'Brien said it was her late husband.

"He did it by himself," O'Brien said. "I don't know how he did it, but he did it by himself."

Cardinal Cupich blessed the statue on Tuesday as sisters of The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary Order witnessed her return.

"She's got a place," O'Brien said. "I know the people here will love her like we do. She's in her home. I'm glad she is home."

"It's a tremendous, beautiful experience to have her to come back to where she really belongs," Szafran said.

"We will never forget," Sorce said. "We have to honor our classmates and our sisters who lost their lives."

Our Lady of the Angels is now an outreach center for retreats and social services. All visitors will now be greeted by the Blessed Mother and reminded of this history of this ground.
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