A statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Christ child outside a church in Sadbury, Canada was vandalized last year. The restoration went horribly wrong, leaving Christ looking more demonic than Holy.
Christ’s head was broken from the statue and Mary’s cheek sustained cracks and a large piece of stone was chipped off.
Artist Heather Wise approached Sainte Anne Des Pins Roman Church’s priest, Gerard Lajeunesse, to ask if she could restore the statue.
“She was quite upset about it and she offered to do something if she could,” Fr. Lajeunesse explained.
She was granted permission and, using terracotta, attempted to recreate the Christ child’s head, complete with a crown atop his holy head.
She spent several hours sculpting the new head and Fr. Lajeunesse described: “The difficulty is the artist had to lift the chin so that the head would stay on because it would keep falling off.”
To make matters worse, the clay began to erode within a week from simple rainfall.
The white statue already appeared odd with the red terracotta standing out but with the addition of erosion, the Christ child’s head appeared more demonic in appearance than holy.
Parishioners were shocked at the sight and many expressed pain, surprise and disappointment with the dramatic difference.
“It really is shocking to the eyes because of the big contrast in color,” Fr. Lajeunesse commented. “The statue has been vandalized before, at least once, maybe twice.
“It’s always Jesus’ head that goes missing. Probably because it’s smaller and easier to break off.”
In the past, parishioners were always able to find Christ’s head nearby and were able to reattach it to the statue.
“This time we looked high and low. No head. No Jesus,” Fr. Lajeunesse stated.
He went to several businesses in search of a replacement but because it had to be custom made, no one “even wanted to consider it.”
Replacing the entire statue would cost between $6,000 to $10,000.
“You wonder, if we do replace it with a new one, will we be up against the same situation?” Lajeunese asked.
Of the temporary terracotta replacement, Fr. Lajeunesse stated: “I don’t expect it to last long. She plans on sculpting in stone sometime next year.
“It’s a first try. It’s a first go…I’m not an artist so I have to tip my hat off to her…And hopefully what is done at the end will please everyone…I wasn’t trained for this in seminary.”
By Kenya Sinclair