Unveiling Our Lady: Guadalupe Statue Revealed!

Filed under: Faith & Values,South Philadelphia,South Philly |

by Maria Merlino
The dream of Sister M. Paula Sister Paula Beierschmitt, IHM president and founder of The American Academy of the Sacred Arts, came true as the huge bronze statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was installed on the left hand side of the church at Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul.

LATE SISTER M. Paula Beierschmitt’s Our Lady of Guadalupe bronze statue is unveiled at Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul. Photo by Maria Merlino

LATE SISTER M. Paula Beierschmitt’s Our Lady of Guadalupe bronze statue is unveiled at Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul. Photo by Maria Merlino

She died before she could see it, but her friends made it possible on Sunday, May 31, at 17th & Race Streets.
Sister Paula commissioned renowned sacred artist Steve Kilpatrick to complete the work. It was seven years ago that Sister Paula had a series of spiritual experiences, including taking the photograph that had a ghostly image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
She knew it was her calling to create in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, a prominent and permanent prayer site. She found the perfect location on Penticost Sunday when she saw the empty wall on Carto’s Funereal Home on South Broad Street.
The strenuous mission to raise the $200,000 for the work began immediately. However in 2013, Sister Paula passed away suddenly. Her board members, trustees and interim President, attorney William F. Maffucci Esq. of Semanoff Ormsby Greenberg & Torchia, LLC would not let the project die with her.
With Pope Francis attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015, efforts skyrocketed to raise the funds. The Academy succeeded in raising approximately two-thirds of the money needed to complete the Guadalupe project. Much of the money was a grant from The Charitable Exchange, a foundation based in Yardley, Pennsylvania, which has also agreed to provide up to an additional $25,000 to match contributions made to the Guadalupe project.

REV. Dennis Gil, the rector of Catholic Parish at Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul, blesses Our Lady of Guadalupe statue. Photo by Maria Merlino

REV. Dennis Gil, the rector of Catholic Parish at Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul, blesses Our Lady of Guadalupe statue. Photo by Maria Merlino

Pope Francis has recognized Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Blessed Mother of the Americas and part of his message states, “When she appeared to St. Juan Diego, her face was that of a mestiza (mixed race) woman and her clothes were full of symbols of the indigenous culture. Following the example of Jesus, Mary is close to her children. She accompanies them on their way as a solicitous mother, and shares the joys and hopes, sufferings and anxieties of the people of God, who are called to form part of all the peoples of the earth. The appearance of the image of the Virgin on the tilma of Juan Diego was a prophetic sign of an embrace, Mary’s embrace, of all the inhabitants of the vast American lands, both those who were already there and those who came after.

CHARCOAL drawing of   Sister Paula’s niece at her First Holy Communion and is called First Love. Photos by Maria Merlino

CHARCOAL drawing of Sister Paula’s niece at her First Holy Communion and is called First Love. Photos by Maria Merlino

This embrace of Mary pointed the way that has always characterized America: a land where different people can live together, a land capable of respecting human life at all stages, from birth to old age, able to welcome immigrants as well as the people and the poor and marginalized of all ages. America is a generous land. This is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and this is my message, the message of the Church. I encourage all inhabitants of the American continent to have open arms like the Virgin Mary, with love and tenderness.
“I pray for all of you, dear brothers and sisters across America, and please pray for me, too. May the joy of the Gospel be always in your hearts. May the Lord bless you and the Virgin be with you.”

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2 Responses to Unveiling Our Lady: Guadalupe Statue Revealed!

  1. I thank Jesus & His Blessed Mother for granting me the privilege of being present both when the picture was taken and for the unveiling of the sculpture. Now the Blessed Virgin will be present for all to see and remind everyone that she is the mother of all and is waiting for each of us to bring her our problems.

    Margaret M. Scicchitano
    June 16, 2015 at 5:47 pm

  2. It has been my pleasure and privilege to be a part of this wonderful project that came to fruition through the efforts of many good people.

    May our dear Sister Mary Paul Beierschmitt rest in God’s eternal peace.

    Thanks to Bill Mafuccit, Father Dennis Gill and our sculptor, Steven Kilpatrick.

    Sister Suzanne Scattergood, IHM
    June 16, 2015 at 6:58 pm

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