An 85-year-old Florida woman and devout Catholic is locked in a battle with lawyers over removing a painting of the Virgin Mary and she’s willing to fight to her death.
“They’ll have to kill me first,” Millie Francis said, according to the Bradenton Herald.
Francis, who lives in the Bradenton Tropical Palms trailer park, painted an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic title of the Virgin Mary, on a piece of plywood that replaced a window in her mobile home.
The property manager for Vanguard Property Management, Janet Nowakowski, is demanding that Francis remove the painting
“You’re not going to tell this old lady what to do,” Francis told The Herald. “This is America. As long as I have two arms and two legs, I’m going to do it.”
Francis had the window removed earlier this year with the permission of the trailer park after having issues with security personnel shining flashlights into her home late at night, the paper noted.
She wasn’t sure what to do with the space and prayed about it while attending Mass.
“I don’t want to say I had a vision or anything like that, but felt enlightened and received the inspiration from our Lady of Guadalupe to paint her image,” Francis said. “So I promised that I would.”
Nowakowski said Francis didn’t get permission through the park’s architectural review committee for the painting and that she missed an Oct. 31 deadline to have the project completed.
She added that park rules say Francis must resubmit her project to the architectural review committee for approval or remove the painting.
“That’s where we stand,” Nowakowski told the paper. “She exceeded the time she was given to complete it and it has to go back before the committee. She has not submitted that request.”
Francis was sent a letter Nov. 9 from park attorneys informing her she had 30 days to remove the painting or face a lawsuit.
Francis claims she is being discriminated against because of her Catholic faith, saying neighbors have various decorations on their homes and are not being approached.
“If I have to go to court, then I have to go,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t take this anymore but I can’t see it coming down. It’s not hurting anyone. They don’t have to look at it if they don’t like it.
“So I don’t understand why they are against me, but it’s going to stay.”
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