Baby Jesus is turned into a gargoyle at a Canadian church

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.

The original version of the oil painting Ecce Homo by Elias Garcia Martinez; the faded version; and the attempted restoration. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The original version of the oil painting Ecce Homo by Elias Garcia Martinez; the faded version; and the attempted restoration by Cecilia Gimenez. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

That was described at the time as the “worst restoration in history” by local press.

13 responses to “Baby Jesus is turned into a gargoyle at a Canadian church”

  1. remigius says:

    Just leave the head off and rename it ‘Mary Babysitting John the Baptist’.

  2. Brummie says:

    Baby Jesus is a bit red-faced over this.

  3. barriejohn says:

    Remigius: That can’t be beaten!

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    The earliest known depiction of Jesus has him with the head of an ass…

  5. barriejohn says:

    Ms Wise said: “Can you see what it is yet?”

    Some visitors to this site may not know Catherine Tate (“I can do that”), but that’s what I was immediately reminded of:

  6. tonye says:

    And to think only one word was missing, it should have read: ‘He was then approached by local (piss) artist, Heather Wise’

    From an art point of view it is truly horrendous.

    However I would love to vote for this lady for next years Richard Dawkins Award as, in one fell swoop, she has done more to show the absurdities of religion than I have in my lifetime of moaning.

    Whenever I need cheering up I watch ‘My Cousin Vinny’ for some reason, from the opening credits to the end, I cannot stop laughing. This is my religious equivalent.

    Thank you Heather.

  7. RussellW says:

    The funniest line is that “She had learned how to sculpt at a local college.” Presumably the college admin is in no hurry to claim Heather Wise as a former student.

    I hope this report isn’t a hoax, it’s so pythonesque.

  8. L.Long says:

    I don’t see the problem here! The statue looks exactly like jesus, he told me so when I had a relationship with jesus.

  9. Paul says:

    Any one that wants to set bears on to children for calling a bald headed man a bald headed man – is a gargoyle.
    Fictional, real or imaginary: A gargoyle.

  10. Vanity Unfair says:

    I have seen that before: in Lincoln Cathedral.

  11. RussellW says:


    The head has been returned, how very, very disappointing.

  12. barriejohn says:

    RussellW: That mock-up is hilarious (really)!