Our Lady Queen of Peace Statue

July 22, 2012 — When I see exotic, expensive religious art and architecture, I think, “Couldn’t that money have been put toward important humanitarian uses?” When I see plain, humble churches, I think, “Shouldn’t the front office of the creator of the cosmos look a bit more extravagant than that?” I’m a jerk for wanting it both ways, sure, but I’m still a little peeved about that whole “born destined for hell” thing.

Still, I do know that creating a remarkable, eye-catching work is the best way to get me to tread on holy ground. Like the 33-foot-tall stainless steel statue of Mary at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in New Castle, Delaware.

Located at 12 Winder Road, the statue can be seen for miles around, especially on the much-in-need-of-salvation corridor that is I-295 and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The statue is open to the public, though, so you can park and see it up close, if you want to put off going to New Jersey for a little while.

The more than four-ton statue has been ornamenting the lawn of Holy Spirit since 2007, and is a slightly larger version of a similar statue, both by local artist Charles Parks. The original was created in the 1980s for a church in California, although it was displayed in Wilmington for a while before its cross-country trek. Since that time, the blessed in Delaware have always wanted their own giant stainless steel mother of God.

I’m never sure how they go about picking the subjects of religious art, whether it’s Christ, Mary, an apostle, a saint, a pope, some random character from the Bible. I’m guessing it’s the same process toy companies go through when releasing licensed action figures. Sure, they could make more obscure characters, but Luke Skywalker will always sell. So they release a thousand versions of him, while other characters never get the toy treatment. In this analogy I’m not sure if the Holy Mother or Christ is Luke Skywalker.

Whatever the decision process, Holy Ghost chose Mary. I assume because nobody agrees on the appearance of the Holy Ghost (I’ve always imaged him as Space Ghost).

Much like the Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virgina, Mary’s a shiny one. More than unholy demons would be burned by this girl on a hot summer day. She’s set on a little dais and surrounded by the Stations of the Cross, and you can get right up close to her metal robes. If you donate $100, they’ll even place your name in the metal heart that adorns her breast.

I will admit that seeing the statue firsthand has certainly changed me. I now know the miracle I want. I could care less about weeping statues and stigmata and images in toast. I want Giant Stainless Steel Mary to animate and walk across the bridge. She does that, I’m going to put much more credence in that loaves and fishes story.