Bishop's Blog

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Statue of Mary in the Cathedral

In 1913, on the occasion of Bishop Spalding’s Golden Jubilee of priestly ordination, a young Peorian and talented architect, sculptor and designer Joseph G. Cowell undertook the task of the Cathedral redecoration which, along with three new marble altars and windows, included a new statue of Madonna for a side altar.

On the day of his ordination Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the presence of this statue promised to do a holy hour every day and to celebrate Mass in honor of the Blessed Mother. 

“On the day of my ordination, I made two resolutions: 1. I would offer the Holy Eucharist every Saturday in honor of the Blessed Mother to solicit her protection on my priesthood.  The Epistle to the Hebrews bids the priest offer sacrifices not only for others, but also for himself, since his sins are greater because of the dignity of the office.  2. I resolved also to spend a continuous Holy Hour ever day in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”  Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Treasure in Clay © Society for the Propagation of the Faith 1980)

Sometime during 1960’-70’, the statue found its new home in the garden of the Guardian Angel orphanage in West Peoria.  Roughened by the weather yet still beautiful, the tender Madonna eventually came back to the Cathedral to a place of honor in the Lady Chapel where it is to this day.