An 85-year-old woman in Florida is refusing to remove a painting of the Virgin Mary after a property manager for Vanguard Property Management ordered her to take it down. Millie Francis said that she was given permission to cover her front window with a piece of plywood following issues with her neighbor looking into her home and security guards shining flashlights through her window late at night.
After she got approval to board up the window, she decided to paint the plywood with the likeness of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in that space,” Francis told the Bradenton Herald. “I was at church during Mass just before communion. To be honest, I wasn’t concentrating much on Mass because I was preoccupied with what am I going to do with this board? I said, ‘Please dear Lord, help me decide on what I want to do.’ 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. So I promised that I would.”
The painting did not sit well with everybody, and the property manager at Bradenton Tropical Palms, Janet Nowakowski, told her that if she did not take it down, workers would go into her home and remove it.
That did not sit well with Francis who vowed to keep the painting, which has been blessed by her church.
“They’ll have to kill me first,” Francis said. “You’re not going to tell this old lady what to do. This is America. As long as I have two arms and two legs, I’m going to do it.”
After she refused to comply or resubmit plans to Vanguard Property Management, she received a letter from the company's lawyers which said that she had 30 days to get rid of the mural.
“If I have to go to court, then I have to go,” Francis 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.”
Francis said that she is worried about what will happen if she loses in court, especially if she is forced to pay the legal fees for the management company's lawyers. But, no matter what happens in court, Francis has no plans to take down her painting.
“I just don’t know anything about this legal stuff. They say I’ll have to pay their attorney fees if they prevail in court. I can’t afford this. I need help and I don’t know what will happen to me, but I do know I’m not taking it down.”