Baby Jesus is turned into a gargoyle at a Canadian church
When a priest at an Ontario Catholic church allowed a local artist to have a go at replacing the missing head of the infant Jesus on a stone statue the result was horrendous.
According to the Guardian, for almost a decade, a white stone statue of Mary and baby Jesus has stood outside Ste Anne des Pins Catholic church in downtown Sudbury. At times vandals had targeted the statue, leaving the head of baby Jesus on the ground nearby.
About a year ago, the head was knocked off again. This time, it seemed, the vandals had taken it with them.
The statue stood headless for months as the church’s priest, Gérard Lajeunesse, asked local businesses about crafting a new head. It would have to be custom-made, he was told, and could cost as much as C$10,000 (£6,130).
He was then approached by local artist, Heather Wise, who said:
I was so sad. My feelings were hurt when I saw it, because I thought, ‘Who would do that?’ … I said ‘I’m an artist, I would like to fix it’.
She had learned how to sculpt at a local college, but had never worked with stone. Still, she felt compelled to help, and discussed fixing it with the priest.
Wise spent hours crafting the bright orange clay head.
To do a statue of baby Jesus for a church is like an honour of my entire art career.
She added that her aim was to sculpt a permanent head out of stone by next year.
The new head was attached about two weeks ago. Reaction was swift; parishioners reacted with hurt, surprise and disappointment, Father Lajeunesse told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
While he understood their point of view – “It really is shocking to the eyes because of the big contrast in colour” – he was stumped at how to handle the situation.
I wasn’t trained for this in seminary.
He stressed that the terracotta head – whose features are rapidly eroding in the rain – is just temporary.
It’s a first try. It’s a first go. And hopefully what is done at the end will please everyone. She did this out of the goodness of her heart.
The head sparked bemusement on social media, with some pointing out the striking resemblance between baby Jesus and the cartoon character Maggie Simpson.
Wrote one commenter on the CBC website:
No wonder Mary has her eyes closed.
Another pointed out:
Since nobody knows what Jesus looked like, what difference does it make?
Some defended the artist’s good intentions, while others dubbed her effort to be an Ecce Homo for the new age – a reference to the botched attempt by a Spanish octogenarian to restore a peeling fresco of Jesus Christ.
That was described at the time as the “worst restoration in history” by local press.