To the editor:
On March 1, when I read The Salem News' front-page story headlined "St. Mary's Church sold," I was extremely elated. And when I read the headline beneath — "Evangelical Christian parish to take over building" — I became even more ecstatic, for I thought that at last, holy people would be praying in the same pews where once we prayed. I knew that the "For Sale" sign would be removed from the facade of the church.
I believe that true holiness is a divine gift that cannot be bought or sold. I thought that perhaps the new parishioners would sit or kneel in those pews and appreciate the holy art, especially the murals that Professor Francheski had hand-painted to decorate the walls of our former church. I thought that perhaps the new parishioners who knelt in prayer would appreciate the three marble altars that Monsignor Salvatore Screnci prudently bought in Italy.
However, a disheartened neighbor reported to me that he saw the smashed marble altars on the Internet. They had been slashed in pieces for all to see while music played softly in the background to serenade the evil that had been done in our beautiful St. Mary's Italian Church. I thought that the promises that had been made to us, the former parishioners, had been forgotten by the mission, for the hand-painted murals that were our treasured memorial gifts had been secretly severed from God's holy walls in the dead of night. I asked myself repeatedly the same multimillion-dollar question: Why would a so-called Christian organization that believes in religious simplicity have purchased the most beautiful, extravagant, Italian art-filled church and then secretly have its contents removed or destroyed?
Anna Della Monica