St. Louis Catholics gather nightly in Forest Park to pray for statue to stay


ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A group of local Catholics are pushing back against the call for removing the statue of St. Louis' namesake atop Art Hill in Forest Park. About 50 people have been praying at the base of the Saint Louis IX statue every night this week. 

Organizers say just a few people showed up at first, but it's been growing.

Related: Trump: Anyone who destroys a statue will face up to 10 years in prison

One of them, Anna Kalinowski, says she knows not everyone agrees with what the former French king stood for. 

"He stood for the truth, he stood for goodness and beauty which are attributes of God. That's why he's a saint," Kalinowski says. "It was a rough time, the Medieval times were difficult and he went on the crusades to help oppressed Christians in the holy lands and to spread the truth of God." 

Louis IX is the only king of France to be canonized in the Catholic Church. The devoted Catholic once ordered the burning of some 12,000 manuscript copies of the Talmud and other Jewish books.

The petition to have the statue removed – and the name of St. Louis changed – has more than 650 signatures, with a goal of 1,000. 

Elizabeth Purghan wants City Hall and the police to protect the statue, so it's not taken down some night when no one's watching.

"I would ask Lyda Krewson to be definitive, she's our mayor, she's paid to be definitive," Purghan says. "So I would ask her to take a stand either way and to do it soon before this becomes a form of anarchy." 

The group has been meeting at the statue to pray at 6:30 every night this week. 

KMOX's Kevin Killeen contributed to this report.
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