Sunday, May 12, 2024

Crown restored to Marian statue at Michigan parish after missing for 44 years

Susan Kraus got goosebumps when she discovered a decorative crown adorned with 12 stars in the basement of St. Hyacinth Parish in Detroit.

The treasured piece of local Church history at the east-side Detroit parish was once considered a long-lost piece of parish lore, the headpiece for the parish’s Immaculata statue, a forgotten gem from a tumultuous time.

“It is the original headpiece from when she was at the main altar at Immaculate Conception Church [in Detroit],” Kraus, a sacristan at St. Hyacinth, told Detroit Catholic. “She’s been without it for 40 years, and it’s about time she got it back.”

The crown was restored to its proper place on top of the statue and was unveiled to parishioners following the parish’s May crowning on May 5.

The Immaculata statue was built in 1920 by Paul Landowski, who also created the famous 98-foot Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue adorned the main altar of Immaculate Conception until the parish was demolished in 1981 to make way for the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

It was a tense time for the Poletown community, with protests and even a sit-in at Immaculate Conception, but the parishioners eventually gave way — though not before the parish’s famed Immaculata statue was rescued and moved to neighboring St. Hyacinth.

The statue was placed in a niche in the church where a confessional used to be, along with stands displaying news articles chronicling Immaculate Conception’s history, a reminder of what was lost and what has been saved.

“The statue meant a lot to parishioners who came in here and adopted St. Hyacinth as their new home after Immaculate Conception was torn down,” Kraus said. “It is only out of fairness and respect toward them that we restore her to her original beauty.”

But the original crown, a reference to Revelation 12, describing a woman wearing a crown with 12 stars, standing on the moon, went missing, seemingly lost to history.

Lost until Kraus did some scrounging through the St. Hyacinth basement, coming across other treasures that are now being incorporated into daily use at the parish.

“The crown was found in an area left by the wayside,” Kraus said. “I understand when the statues came, she was without a crown. I don’t know who put the crown where I found it, but for the past several months I’ve been finding things in the basement. We recently found the ambry, the box where you keep your holy oils, that was recently installed directly behind the tabernacle.”

Parishioners stayed after Mass to take pictures of the Immaculata statue, now adorned with her crown, reflecting on the history of Immaculate Conception, St. Hyacinth, and other tales and treasures that make the history of Poletown unique.

“It means a lot to people, but I question why it wasn’t done 40 years ago,” Kraus said. “I’m new to the church here — six or seven years ago I came from Shelby Township — but I know what belongs in the church and the proper etiquette for church artifacts. We’re so glad to have the crown restored, back to where it belongs.”