New Cabrini statue boasts an Italian back story

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A new statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was unveiled on Oct. 15, 2022, in the courtyard of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral in celebration of the 75th anniversary of her canonization. Born in Italy, Mother Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized, and her statue in Chicago has a great Italian backstory.

The sculpture was created by Lou Cella and Jessica LoPresti, both of whom are of Italian descent.

While Cella’s name isn’t well known, his works are. They include sculptures of baseball legends Harry Caray, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo at Wrigley Field, as well as Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko at Guaranteed Rate Field. Bart Starr, Gale Sayers and Ken Griffey Jr. are among the many other sports greats to have been captured in bronze by Cella.

Cella and LoPresti are artists at Rotblatt Amrany Studio of Fine Art in Highwood. The pair have worked together on projects — including on a statue of Hall of Fame pitcher Stanley Coveleski for the South Bend Cubs — but neither had created a likeness of a saint before.

The delicate checkered pattern on Mother Cabrini’s veil was a particular challenge: one the pair tackled by having LoPresti model a habit similar to what the saint wore.

About Ron Polaniecki

Ron Polaniecki is a lifelong Chicagoan with decades of experience in communications management for national and local trade and professional associations. Now retired, Ron continues to contribute freelance articles for a variety of business and specialty publications. For some 30 years, Ron has been a volunteer leader for Chicago Shares, a not-for-profit that helps the needy. He holds an undergraduate degree from DePaul University in Education and a graduate degree in American History from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ron and his wife live on the Northwest Side and are active church volunteers and help with their 12 grandchildren.

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