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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Pilsen Mural Of Virgen de Guadalupe Vandalized: ‘It’s Really Disrespectful’

Defacing the Virgin Mary mural goes against "our culture and what we believe in,” one resident said of the graffiti.

The face of a Virgin Mary mural was defaced on 16th Street near Carpenter Street in Pilsen.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — A mural of la Virgen de Guadalupe on 16th Street was defaced with graffiti last week in Pilsen.

Letters were spray-painted across the face of the Our Lady of Guadalupe mural, the celebrated Catholic image of The Virgin Mary, on 16th Street near Carpenter Street in the neighborhood.

Painted by Pilsen artist Oscar Romero, the Virgin Mary mural is located just west of the Chicago Fire soccer club-themed mural that was also created by Romero in 1998.

Nancy Quintana, who has lived on the block for more than two decades and whose family provided the paint for the mural more than 20 years ago, said the graffiti was upsetting. 

“They have tagged up other murals but they have never tagged the [Virgen de Guadalupe],” the 48-year-old neighbor said. “People have murals and paintings of the Virgen all around the neighborhood, but this has never happened. Never the Virgen. This is very bothersome.”

Quintana’s family donated the paint for the mural as an offering during a hardship for the family, she remembered.  

“Our religion is strong and she guides us,” Quintana said.

Mary Galan, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades, said she got “chills” when she saw the graffiti deface the Virgin Mary. Galan said it was a incredibly disrespectful to the Mexican and Mexican-American community who live in Pilsen. 

“When you live with the image [of Virgen de Guadalupe] all your life, it’s a major part of your culture, your background,  your religion, it’s your whole being…and to see this happen, it’s really disrespectful,” Galan said.

Ald. Danny Solis’ 25th Ward office was alerted of the graffiti on the mural and has submitted a request to city’s Streets and Sanitation Department to have the graffiti removed, a spokesperson confirmed. 

Spokesman Jackson Chiu said the alderman’s office has seen an uptick in graffiti on 16th Street. City crews have to be cautious during graffiti removal as to “not wreck the mural,” Chiu said.

Solis called the graffiti “stupid, outrageous and disgraceful.”

“If we get enough publicity around this, maybe we’ll embarrass them and they’ll realize they did something stupid,” he said. 

Romero could not immediately be reached Monday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.