A little Polish lady called me one day looking for help. She needed some help moving. I heard her, but not really, I was hungry and tired. “No, you don’t understand!” she said. “I need help to move St. Hedwig”. “I don’t understand? That church was taken down in 2007.” After catching up with her, I realized it was the actual St. Hedwig, the statue. Standing about 8ft tall and coming in at 2,000 pounds, this was going to get interesting.
St. Hedwig’s congregation was brought into St. Francis Xavier at 24th and Green during the closing of St. Hedwig’s Church in 2005. Since then, life moved on, but the little Polish lady kept vigilant in keeping her home church alive. She saved the cross that fell off the steeple during demolition, how she moved the 800 pound cross, I’m not quite sure. She’s quite spry for her age. The vigilance paid out in spades when one day she saw her. The carved marble statue of St. Hedwig had gone missing during the closing, no one knew what happened to her.
Found not far from St. Francis, on private property, the little Pole went to work and got face to face with the current keeper of the carving. Hearing the story, the man decided to donate the statue back to the church and the little Polish lady. I’m a big believer in Karma, I think that fellow was as well.
So there I was in 2010 rigging up this beautiful piece, wiggling it out from it’s tight nook. Little Polish lady watching, vigilant. Lifting her up from her perch, riding in the back of the truck, St. Hedwig gazing straight ahead, eyes never wavering. We brought her to the churches new home at St. Francis, it was decided she would be set at the Nunnery across the street from St. Francis. We dug a footer and poured a concrete pier to hold a nice slab of reclaimed King of Prussian Marble. There St. Hedwig was placed for all to see.
“I need help to move St. Hedwig” echoes out of the ear piece of my phone. “What?” I say. “I don’t understand?”. The little Polish lady was on the phone. I had not heard from her in years, but would occasionally drive by the statue to see how she was doing. “The Nunnery is sold, we need to move St. Hedwig. The new owner of the building is going to get rid of her! We have little time”. This was the predicament I found myself in, again, only now it was 10 degrees out in one of the coldest Winters in Philadelphia.
We manged to save her, again. She sit’s behind St. Francis Xavier at 24th and Green, you can see her from the walk. She is just below the Virgin Mary, between the Church and the Catholic School in the garden. The little Polish lady is happy. Vigilant.