WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — South Boulevard in West Springfield was a bustle of activity today after recent controversy over an adopt an island display.
It was over a year ago when Antonio Liquori, owner of Liquori’s Pizza, decided to adopt an island. He submitted his plans to the town and planted a garden.
“It looks beautiful you know and I thought something was missing there. I always believe in love and care about the people, so I had the mother virgin over at my house and I brought her over to the island and I put her there,” explained Liquori.
The statue has been there for a year, but just last month, Liquori received a letter telling him that religious artifacts are not to be displayed on city property and that he had to take the Madonna down and had two weeks to do it. He says since he’s taken the statue off the island, he just hasn’t felt right.
While Mary is a religious symbol, for Liquori she represents love, motherhood, peace and hope for all who drive by. A topic that’s an emotional one for Antonio.
“Because I got a sick son, it’s been almost 12 years ago, and we keep praying for healing and peace,” says Liquori.
Antonio’s son suffered a brain tumor which had to be surgically removed. The Madonna has been a symbol not only of hope but of nurturing to he and his family.
“We all got a mother and we all got love for mother. And I see my own wife, she spends all day and night with my own son, watching him, keep an eye on him because he can’t walk by himself.
Antonio insists the statue was not there to promote his own business or to upset anyone but to bring love and peace to his neighborhood.
We also reached out to West Springfield’s Mayor Gregory Neffinger as well as the Town Attorney Simon Brighenti. Neither were available for comment.
The Mayor did grant Liquori permission to return the statue while they decide on a permanent solution to this conflict.
Liquori and his supporters plan to return the Madonna to the island this Sunday, Mother’s Day.