Mailbag 30: Legalized Looting

Happy Holidays, Project fans! Put down the eggnog and join me for another thrilling installment of our mailbag!

(No, I don't care if it's the non-alcoholic kind. Have you looked at the nutritional label and seen how bad that stuff is for you? Yeesh.)

Project fan and reader Christopher Purdom offers the following note:

Thank you for your site.

You're most welcome!


I run http://www.philart.net/ which catalogs publicly visible art in Philadelphia, much of which is on churches.

And thank you for your site. Some really nice stuff there--check it out, if you haven't already.

I've been trying to find references to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church because in the parking lot behind the Archdiocese there's a crucifixion scene with a plaque that says "St. Elizabeth Catholic Church founded 1872" and no other explanation at all.
An email to the Catholic Historical Society who in the past have been helpful yielded no response.
But today I found your entry for St. Veronica /veronica.htm which mentions St. Elizabeth.
Do you have any idea why the Archdiocese might have a crucifixion scene labeled "St. Elizabeth Catholic Church" in their parking lot? I'm thinking the statues might have been rescued from there, but I'm otherwise clueless.

Your suspicions are most likely correct. 

While I don't have "official" confirmation, a few readers have said that scene was rescued (or, depending on who you ask, looted) from the failing St. Elizabeth Church. The fact that Philly's St. Elizabeth was indeed founded in 1872, and that the Archdiocese has a long history of, ahem, re-appropriating material from closed parishes, only makes the case stronger.

Oh, and for those who can't picture the statues in question, here's an image courtesy Christopher's own site:
Also if you're looking for interesting churches, may I recommend visiting http://www.tabunited.org/ some Sunday morning?  It's a great gothic building with a lovely worship space in the original chapel.

That's an interesting place, as it's also home to the University of Pennsylvania's Iron Gate Theatre. A church and a performance space? A very admirable example of religious mixed-use, if nothing else. More churches could (and should) embrace the concept.