The heads and hands of both Mary and baby Jesus are now missing from a statue outside Sainte-Anne des Pins Roman Catholic church in downtown Sudbury.
The statue last made the news in July of last year, when the baby Jesus head was reported missing, which Sainte-Anne Des Pins parish administration board chair Michel Chrétien said at the time accompanied various other acts of vandalism at their property.
"The problem is not going away and it seems to be increasing from year to year," Chrétien said last year – a point he reiterated to Sudbury.com earlier today in response to ongoing concerns.
In late May, Mary joined her son in facing decapitation alongside additional damage.
“I don’t know if the statue itself is salvageable at the moment,” Chrétien said. “There have been so many issues with that statue.”
The two heads are in the church’s possession alongside the balance of broken-off pieces, minus some fragments.
“It’s an ongoing story, an ongoing issue of vandalism with the church, and not only the church but all of the downtown,” Chrétien said, clarifying he doesn’t believe the church has been targeted, but that it has been tied up in the broader issues facing the city’s downtown core.
Chrétien does not want the community to draw a line between the city’s homeless community and damage to the church, citing it as unfair due to the fact it’s unknown who is responsible.
People have been stealing or damaging “whatever they can get their hands on ... that’s small enough to move or break,” he said. Their air-conditioning units have also suffered damage alongside other components of the building’s exterior.
“We’re always exploring different ideas to secure the grounds, secure the buildings, so we are exploring the idea of possibly putting in a fence or repairing the fence we already have around the grounds, but that’s quite expensive,” Chrétien said.
Additional fencing, he added, would be a last resort.
“It’s kind of sad we’d have to go to that, but we might not have a choice.”
The Mary and baby Jesus statue received international attention in 2016 after the baby Jesus head was cut off by a vandal the previous year and replaced with a temporary head by a local artist. The attention came as a result of the head’s appearance, which was criticized for its colour difference from the rest of the statue and its features.
The age of the statue is unknown, Chrétien said, as it was brought in from another church when the current building opened in 1996.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.