‘Broken Mary’ focus of peace procession

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Procession for peace features 'Broken Mary' statue

Thousands of worshippers escort a statue of "Broken Mary" down Chicago Avenue after leaving St. John Cantius Church on May 31, 2019. Kevin Matthews, a longtime Chicago radio host, found the broken statue of the Virgin Mary in a dumpster and it inspired a conversion in his life. Now Matthews travels with the statue bringing a message of God’s love for all people and encourages people to pray the rosary. The parish held the peace procession to the historic Water Tower to pray for healing of the “brokenness” in the city of Chicago. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
People pray before a statue of "Our Lady of the Broken" at St. John Cantius Church on May 31. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Members of the Missionaries of Charity pray in the church before the start of Kevin Matthews' presentation. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Kevin Matthews hold up a pamphlet on Mary during his talk. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
First responders prepare to carry the statue out of the church. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
First responders carry the statue out of the church. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The procession down Chicago Avenue as seen from the air. (Ruth Durkin/Chicago Catholic)
People in the procession raise their candles and sing "Ave Maria" in between decades of the rosary. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The procession makes its way toward the Water Tower. People in the procession raise their candles and sing "Ave Maria" in between decades of the rosary. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
People pray the rosary and carry candles during the procession. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
The candlelight procession crosses Larrabee Street. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
People raise their candles and sing at Water Tower Plaza. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
A Missionary of Charity sister crowns the statue of Mary at Water Tower Plaza. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
People pray at Water Tower Plaza at the end of the procession. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
First responders process out of Water Tower Plaza with the statue of Mary. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

On the evening of May 31, the feast of the Visitation of Mary, over 1,500 people walked out of St. John Cantius Church at Chicago and Ogden Avenues and processed — holding candles and reciting the rosary — to the historic Water Tower to pray for peace in the city.

They followed first responders who carried the statue of Our Lady of the Broken. The statue of the Virgin Mary was rescued in 2010 by former Chicago radio personality Kevin Matthews, who found it lying by a dumpster in disrepair. The statue, he says, serves as a reminder that Mary and her son, Jesus, come for all people — the whole and the broken.

Matthews credits Mary with bringing him back to his Catholic faith and changing his life. He had the statue repaired but kept her broken hands and other signs of distress as a reminder of his own brokenness and that of all people.

He wrote a book about his experience and now takes the statue to churches, prisons, hospitals and other places, speaking about Mary’s love for God’s children and encouraging people to pray the rosary.

Matthews shared his story and message in the church prior to the procession.

It was the message of brokenness and God’s love for all that inspired St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter St., to plan, not just the statue’s visit, but a procession for peace in the streets of Chicago.

“When we heard the story from Kevin Matthews, we knew it had related to our city, which has seen a lot of brokenness,” said Canons Regular Father Joshua Caswell, the event’s lead organizer. “We also just listened to the little inspirations God was saying to us. I believe Mary wanted us to do this.”

It made sense to involve local first responders, he said.

“No one sees more of that brokenness than our first responders. Every day they see more in 24 hours than some of us will ever see in a lifetime,” Caswell said. “They’ve had a hard year with the lives they have lost. It was so fitting to see that once-shattered statue carried on the shoulders of those sworn to protect.”

The event’s message was simple: there is hope for the broken.

“The event was really incredible. It was truly a miracle everything came together so well — the permits, the weather, the people who came from all over the archdiocese. I saw people of every color and creed that day take in a bit of inspiration from a statue that was once in the dumpster,” Caswell said. “I saw the broken, physically and spiritually, experience a renewal that night. My hope is that this is just the beginning for our city, that we can have hope that God restores all things, and that we have a heavenly mother who loves us.”

Danielle Campanella, a young adult from St. Patrick Parish in Wadsworth, said it’s important to witness to the faith through activities like processions.

“It’s a huge testament to others around us who stopped and watched us as we were praying through the streets of Chicago,” she said.

Campanella called the outpouring of faith in the streets “really beautiful.”

“And it’s very timely that we have this broken Mary statue here in the heart of Chicago given the legislation that is in our Illinois government right now,” she said, referring to the abortion legislation that passed the Illinois House that evening.

Bill Moran of Elmhurst decided at the last minute to attend the event and called it “powerful.”

“It’s a simple public witness of Christ. That’s all,” Moran said. “One of the things that struck me while we were walking  is that when we have parades we are celebrating or honoring something. This wasn’t about individuals but it’s really about Jesus through Mary. That was it.”


  • processsion
  • st john cantius
  • anti-violence

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