Passion Statue Can Be Seen In Eastwick And South Philadelphia

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Back in the 1920s, a little Polish parish was started in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia called St. Mary of Czestochowa. In the ’30s, a fire raged and the church was totally destroyed. A new church was resurrected. To celebrate, the pastor, in 1936, purchased an emotionally provocative statue called the Scourged Christ.

JACK POLITO and Mike Castagno with Passion of Christ Statue.

JACK POLITO and Mike Castagno with Passion of Christ Statue.

Long before Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ ever hit the screen, this life-size statue was bringing the reality of what Christ must have suffered into the conscious minds of thousands of people who looked upon it.

The statue has been drawing visitors from around the country ever since.

In 2003, the archdiocese closed the church and the statue was without a home.

Jack Polito, a long-time parishioner and caretaker of the statue, petitioned the Archdiocese to allow his close friend Michael Castagno and himself to take the statue out to the people. He was officially given the task of taking care of the statue and coordinating the schedule of placing it in different churches each year.

Over the last decade, the two men have placed the statue in over 25 churches in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Lancaster, Hershey and Baltimore with requests coming from as far as Washington D.C., Boston and Texas. They have never had to contact any church, since the churches contact them. They are now booked four to five years in advance.

The two men set up and remove the statue at no cost to the Parishes. Any revenue generated at the churches, while hosting the statue, stay with that parish.

Starting 2015, the statue will be St. Barnabas Church at 63rd & Buist Avenue (215) 726-1119, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 14 and during Lent at St. Paul’s Church, 10th & Christian Streets, (215) 923-0355.

For more information, visit the statue’s website: or for scheduling call, Jack Polito at (215) 492-0940.

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2 Responses to Passion Statue Can Be Seen In Eastwick And South Philadelphia

  1. Dear Mr. Polito and Mr. Castagno,

    Hello. Is this statue the same one that was at St. Mary of Czestowa at 58th & Elmwood Avenue? My mother and her family were from St. Mary’s, lived at 6121 Wheeler Street. Last name was Kocienski. Andrew and Mary were her parents. Her sisters were Stella, Mary, Jenny, Vicky, Antoinette, Frances. Stella married Larry Matkevitch (Mitchell) and they lived on 6100 Reedland block, first house off of 62nd Street, the house whose back would face Wheeler. Uncle Larry drove a lumber truck for a lumber company. They had two children, Richard and Linda. I remember the icecream parlor and the Italian deli on those two corners, Rook’s Deli on the corner at 61st Street (it was Cookie’s before that) and Pepe’s Deli over on the corner of Grays & 61st, near the pit wwhere the Amtrak tracks are, what used to be the old Brill’s yard, from which Our Lady of Loreto parish would have fireworks displays on St. Anthony’s Day.

    Grandmom and Grandpop had two good neighbors on either side of them, the Giordanos on one side (6119) and Anthony (6123), don’t know the last name, on the other. He had at least two sons, one also Anthony. Both sons would work the Loreto parish carnival, and at least one of them would sit on the dunk pool –throw a baseball and dunk the guy. All good people.

    Now I’ve read a couple other archived articles about the statue, and it seems this statue was originally preserved by Mike Guida. He must/might have been a relative of the Guida’s that had the iron works, originally off Woodland Ave near the Avenue Ave restaurant and Theodo’s Restaruarnt and The large Woodland Tavern (later a Buddhist Temple). the Iron works was back where the old swimming pool used to be, behind the Avenue Restaurant. Dial Shoe Store on the corner. Now that Dial Shoe store is going way back !!!.

    I remember St. Mary’s. Attended Church there several times. Many weddings at the church hall also. Didn’t St. Mary’s have a framed Black Madonna on the wall? Whatever happened to that?

    Larry Toomey

    Larry Toomey
    March 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

  2. Dear Larry,

    You are addressing the editor of the South Philadelphia Public Record newspaper. If you want to talk to Jack Polito, call him at (215) 492-0940. If you want more information about the statue, go to the following website: Good luck!

    editor @pr
    March 12, 2015 at 11:16 am

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