It will take at least another year to replace the eight religious statues that were beheaded at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes last May.
The statues, which are in the care of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, depict the Stations of the Cross and were originally installed in 1953.
The vandalism has the diocese perplexed.
“We don't know what the exact purpose behind it was,” David Sirois, assistant financial administrator of the Diocese said. “Those statues have been there for almost 70 years and they've never been touched before. We are saddened by it.”
Replicas of the bronze statues are being crafted by artist Timothy P. Schmalz (of Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz Inc.), who will reproduce each statue as a whole, rather than replace the broken portions separately.
“When they pour bronze it tends to shrink so trying to get the sizing correct is a lot of work.” Sirois said. “It ended up being quite more expensive to match it up.”
Using clay, the artist will create molds of each of the damaged statues which will then be used to pour the bronze. Patina will be applied to each piece to imitate the original statues.
“The history will be lost but we are hoping the patina will be done in a way so people won't notice unless they know what happened to the statues,” Sirois said.
So far only one clay sculpture is complete. Sirois said the artist plans to have all eight reproductions completed by the end of the fall and installed at the Grotto by the spring of 2022.
The Grotto is considered to be one of Sudbury’s hidden gems. With its panoramic view of the city and 16-foot fountain, many people visit the downtown property to reflect as they walk the peaceful paths.
“We are looking at getting a security system installed so hopefully that will deter that from happening again in the future or any other form of vandalism.”