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Foes fight plan to swap Mary statues

ST. JOHN, Ind. – A church’s plan for moving a 15-foot-tall marble Virgin Mary statue from along a northwestern Indiana highway has opponents threatening a court fight.

St. John the Evangelist Catholic parish leaders want to move the marble statue from U.S. 41 in the Lake County town of St. John and swap it with a 33-foot-tall metal St. Mary statue that is now outside the church about a half mile away.

Opposition group Save Our Lady spokesman Brad Wachter told The Times ( that the parish’s plan violates legal documents incorporating the shrine’s foundation. Wachter’s grandfather had the marble statue erected in 1954.

Parish pastor Rev. Sammie Maletta said the original statue will be in a place of honor outside the church, where it will be accessible to the most people.