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Missing Arm From 300-Year-Old Statue Found After Fire at Woodlawn Shrine

By Sam Cholke | October 8, 2015 4:15pm
 The Shrine of Christ the King has started the process of rebuilding a day after a devastating fire.
Shrine of Christ the King Fire Aftermath
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WOODLAWN — A day after a devastating fire, Shrine of Christ the King’s priests say they have found the missing arm of its 300-year-old statue and started the rebuilding process with a fundraiser.

It took nearly 150 firefighters to put out a fire at the shrine at 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave. that started early in the morning when rags used to apply floor polish combusted.

Within the first four hours, Shrine of Christ the King raised more than $7,000 from 46 people on a GoFundMe campaign to raise $500,000 to rebuild the shrine.

New images from inside the church show how badly the structure was damaged.

“The fire destroyed large parts of the roof, the entire choir loft, the windows and most of the interior furnishings of the church,” said Matthew Talarico, canon at the shrine. “The damage from water and smoke in the rest of the church and sacristy is extensive and is still being assessed.”

The shrine’s 300-year-old statue Christ the Child miraculously survived the fire and was rescued by firefighters, but lost an arm in the process.

The shrine is now saying firefighters have also found the statue’s arm and the statue will restored along with its former home.

The fire has undone more than 10 years of work to restore the shrine and has left the congregation without a permanent home until the damage can be repaired.

“This was a spiritual home to many families, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the hard work of the past 10 years destroyed: gone are the new roof, the altars, the pews, the artwork, the familiar statues and the exterior that took countless hours to clean and restore,” Talarico said.

The priests of the shrine have promised to continue holding mass despite the fire and have found a temporary home at St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park at 5472 S. Kimbark Ave. starting with a 7 p.m. mass on Thursday.

Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, the vicar general for the United States for the Institute of Christ the King, will lead the solemn high mass at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at St. Thomas.

The insurance company is still inspecting the shring and Talarico and the other priests have promised to provide updates on the shrine’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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