Beloved 'La Pieta' statue removed from shuttered St. Adalbert church in Pilsen despite protests

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Beloved statue removed from shuttered Pilsen church
A small human chain formed outside St. Adalbert's Church in Pilsen in a last, desperate attempted to stop the removal of La Pieta.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After months of delays and protests, the a beloved statue has been removed from a Pilsen church.

It was moved from Saint Adalbert Catholic Church to nearby Saint Paul Catholic Church.

Neighborhood groups fight to keep Pilsen's St. Adalbert Church

A small human chain formed outside St. Adalbert's Church in Pilsen Tuesday morning in a last, desperate attempted to stop the removal of La Pieta. It is a replica of Michelangelo's original masterpiece which has taken on a life of its own, becoming a symbol of those who have fought to preserve St. Adalbert's as it is, three years after it closed its doors as a functioning church for the very last time.

"When you go there you don't realize what you have. You know, as a church," former parishioner Anina Jakubowsky said. "I never realized how grand it was. How great. Until all this was going on and they left us out of it."

"I played guitar here all my life. I saw my siblings get married in this church. It's an emotional day," former parishioner Javier Yañez said. "They're making a hole, not in the building to remove something, they're making a hole into the community's fabric."

An important symbol for both the Polish and Mexican communities, at its peak St. Adalbert's counted over 4,000 families as parishioners. But dwindling membership and resources moved the Archdiocese to merge its parish along with those of St. Ann and St Paul, where La Pieta has found a new home where people can view it.

"This is part of the unification and this was necessary," said Raul Serrato, with St. Paul Catholic Church. "The statue was in an empty building and people were breaking in and people were breaking in. There was a risk of it being vandalized."

Former parishioners and their supporters say they are concerned that removal of the statue signifies the impending sale of the structure, which they fear might be torn down and redeveloped--despite its position on the city's orange list, designating it as a historic building with architectural significance.

"The lack of due process really highlights the issues that we have in the city of Chicago," 25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-López said. "We have not made any progress even to discuss a meeting, to have a meeting."

A lawsuit was filed against the city last week as the battle continues to protect the structure.

As for La Pieta, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese says the statue already has a designated spot inside St. Paul's, located at 2127 W. 22nd Place, but will likely not be on public display before Sunday Mass.