Virgin Mary statue stolen in South Philadelphia; community makes it right

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A religious statue that had become a landmark of sorts in South Philadelphia was suddenly snatched from the grotto where it stood for years.

The grotto on the corner of 18th and Packer Avenue is a landmark in Packer Park, a place for passers-by to reflect. It's where the statue of the Virgin Mary was swiped Wednesday night right outside the home of Pasquale and Anna Scioli.

"Last night I cried, for me it's like family, the Blessed Mother is like my family," said 87-year-old Pasquale Scioli.

Scioli is a well known and well-loved tailor in South Philadelphia. While he works, the Blessed Mother watches over his sewing machine along with the Italian saint, Padre Pio.

And after living in Packer Park for more than 25 years, Scioli and his wife, Anna, have become like family to the neighborhood.

"He touches a lot of people, he just has that good persona about him," said Anthony Messina of the Packer Park Civic Association.

That statue is much more than a plaster form, it's a landmark of sorts.

"Some probably think this is so silly, but it's not, this is a symbol of our faith," said Theresa Franchetti.

"I know that doesn't sound like a lot to a lot of people but it has been here 30 some years," said Barbara Capozzi, president of Packer Park Civic Association.

So when word spread it was gone, there was a rush to make things right.

"We reached out to Saint Jude and we offered to pay for the statue and turned around, and they're willing to donate it to our civic group," said Messina.

Within a few hours the DiCocco Family's St. Jude Shop in Havertown donated a new statue which will be cemented in its rightful place.
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