Anthony, who has lived on Long Island for the past 50 years, dropped by to see the church of Our Lady of Peace this morning with his daughter Antonia and her husband Sal. It had been a long time since Anthony visited his childhood parish, and there was something he needed to see.
"There was one painting I remembered since I was a child," Anthony said. "It was the man with the ax. He was chopping wood and he also had a hammer. I have a lot of memories here."
As a child, Anthony grew up on E. 62nd Street. He went to public school and remembers attending catechism classes taught by "two young fellows" at Our Lady of Peace. "My two sisters went to school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on 62nd Street," he added. "A few years ago, as we were coming into the city, we drove past there and saw that the church has been torn down. The school is still there, but it's not in use."
"I'm 93 and I've seen a lot of things," Anthony reflected. "Some things are horrible, and some things are good. It all depends on how you react... I was raised a Catholic. My mother was a Catholic..."
After he signed the petition to preserve Our Lady of Peace, Anthony slowly walked up the center aisle of the church. He hesitated a little, carefully walking up the steps, and then he went behind the altar and pointed at the painting. "There he is - the man with the ax. My son-in-law said that's Saint Joseph," he said. "I feel good that I saw it again."
The painting depicts Joseph constructing a cross, foreshadowing the crucifixion of Jesus. Joseph gestures toward Mary, who is spinning. While spinning is symbolic of the purity of Mary, it is also symbolic of human existence - birth, fate, and death. The unspun wool symbolizes the otherwordly and the new thread represents new life. Mary's gaze is directed toward the holy child, who carries a smaller cross, and looks at Joseph.
Satisfied that he had seen the man with the ax up close, Anthony stepped down from the altar. He looked around the church and commented on how clean and bright it looked inside.
"I was surpised to hear that they're thinking of closing it," he said, "but you don't know what they're thinking....It isn't something they're going to talk about. They may be thinking they're doing this for good reasons.... If you show them they're making a mistake, maybe they'll change their minds."