Thousands march behind 'Broken Mary' statue as longtime radio host brings message of unity,
Crowds gather for a candlelit procession called "There is Hope for the Broken" on May 31, 2019, in Chicago. The procession was led by the "Broken Mary" statue that radio host Kevin Matthews found, pieced back together and wrote a book about the experience.
Thousands of people held burning candles, at Friday’s event. Kevin Matthews, a longtime Chicago radio host had a spiritual awakening after he stumbled across a broken Virgin Mary statue sitting next to a dumpster outside a flower shop.
Before the candlelight procession began, Matthews gave his testimony at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago’s Goose Island neighborhood about how he found “Broken Mary.” The pews overflowed with people. Thousands sat. Hundreds stood.
Matthews had just lost his job and had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While driving home one day, he had an urge to pick up some flowers for his wife.
As he walked into a flower shop in Grand Rapids, Mich., Matthews spotted a blue dumpster. And to his dismay, lying on the ground next to the dumpster was a statue of the Virgin Mary.
The statue was covered in trash. Her body was split in half and her tiny hands chipped.
Matthews took the broken statue home and put it back together. But the cracks and fractured hands remain. He believes the defects of the statue, which he calls Broken Mary, are symbolic of a flawed people, a people in constant need of healing.
“The message of Broken Mary is we’re all broken,” Matthews said. “Everyone. We’re not perfect, we’re flawed. But we’re loved.”
Now, eight years after finding the statue, Matthews is bringing Broken Mary and a message of unity and healing to Chicago.
Outside, after Matthews’ testimony, a large procession was escorted by Chicago police officers as participants walked roughly 1.5 miles east along Chicago Avenue to Water Tower Place.
The crowd walked slowly and moved in silence. They only spoke to recite prayers.
The message was simple: Everyone is broken and in need of healing, according to organizers.
Emergency responders and service members, including Chicago police, Illinois State Police, Chicago firefighters and National Guard members were in attendance.
Although he grew up Catholic, Matthews returned to a more active practice of his faith after finding Broken Mary.
“It has changed him for sure,” said the Rev. Joshua Caswell, event coordinator and associate pastor St. John Cantius Catholic Church. “He’s more humble, more grateful and more joyful.”
Matthews has traveled across the country with Broken Mary, visiting prisons, drug rehabilitation centers, hospitals and hospices.
“She’s gone from a dumpster to being carried on men’s shoulders Friday on a bed of roses with a crown,” Matthews said. “We all can aspire to that hope. We’re not garbage. We’re God’s children.”
The city’s crime makes it evident that too many people have a “lack of respect for life,” said the Rev. Daniel Brandt, director of Chicago Police Chaplains Ministry, citing's the city's violent Memorial Day weekend, during which at least 43 people were shot and seven people were killed.
"This walk can bring a lot of comfort and peace to a lot of broken people," Brandt said. "The city needs a renewed respect for life."
“It’s not just our city that’s broken, but each of us individually that’s broken,” Caswell said. "It's about a personal healing for each one of us."
Edited from the Chicago Tribune