Traveling Virgin Mary finds home in Northwest Indiana

May 22, 2011

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(Photo by Michael Puente/WBEZ)
Our Lady of the New Millennium in St. John, Indiana.

Cardinal Francis George will join thousands of Catholics Sunday in Northwest Indiana. He’ll be there to dedicate a 34-foot tall stainless steel statue of the Virgin Mary that he named “Our Lady of the New Millennium.”

The statue, which depicts the mother of Jesus, was created in 1999 by the late Carl Demma of suburban Oak Lawn. The statue has toured the Midwest for the past twelve years. In 1999, Pope John Paul II blessed the statue in St. Louis. She also attracted crowds at several Chicago locations, including Navy Pier. But the statue has now found a home in the town of St. John, Indiana, about an hour south of Chicago.

For now, she’ll be on display in the parking lot of St. John the Evangelist Church before being moved to a permanent spot nearby. Church pastor Rev. Sammie Maletta says the switch will take place next year.

“When you hear about a 34-foot statue made of stainless steel, it doesn’t evoke thoughts of warmth,” Maletta told WBEZ on Thursday. “But as you can see for yourself, it’s a very beautiful, artistic wise, the face is so gentle and powerful.”

The statue is surrounded by a mock-up of downtown Chicago, with recreations of Holy Name Cathedral and St. John the Evangelist Church. 

Maletta says the background has a Chicago-based theme because the statue was originally intended to rest there. Maletta will join Cardinal George and Rev. Dale Melczek, Bishop of the Gary Catholic Diocese, at today’s event, which begins at 2 p.m. with music. The dedication begins at 5 p.m.