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New Head For Jesus Statue That Prompted Double Takes Is Gone

This statue, in Sudbury, Ontario, was apparently vandalized about a year ago. A local artist volunteered to help replace Jesus' missing head, but not everyone appreciates her efforts.
Marina von Stackelberg
This statue, in Sudbury, Ontario, was apparently vandalized about a year ago. A local artist volunteered to help replace Jesus' missing head, but not everyone appreciates her efforts.

Updated 7 p.m. ET with the replacement head being removed

The CBC reports that an odd-looking substitute for a stolen head of Jesus has itself now been removed from a statue. The church's priest said the replacement had to go because it was damaging the original statue.

But while the temporary head was in place, it inspired lots of joy on the Internet.

Our original post:

In this one, very particular, instance, maybe baby Jesus was better off headless.

A statue at a church in Canada was apparently vandalized last October, and the baby Jesus' head had been missing ever since.

So a well-intentioned local artist offered to help out — creating a terra cotta substitute that has popped eyes, dropped jaws and shocked the general public in Sudbury, in northern Ontario.

The church's priest admits the contrast in color, between the white stone and red clay, is jarring to the eye. But judge for yourself just how much there is to object to in this artistic edit.

Marina von Stackelberg reported on the story for CBC. She says the baby Jesus' head had gone missing before — probably because it's small and easy to break off, priest Gérard Lajeunesse said.

In past cases of vandalism, von Stackelberg notes, the congregation had always managed to track down the pilfered head and restore the statue to wholeness.

"This time we looked high and low," Lajeunesse told the CBC. "No head. No Jesus."

So he reached out to local businesses, but he couldn't find anyone willing to replace just the head.

"This time we looked high and low. No head. No Jesus."

"Replacing the entire statue would cost between $6,000 and $10,000," von Stackelberg reports — and the priest was worried that after that expense, the head would be broken and stolen again.

So he gladly accepted the help of a local artist who volunteered to help. The result has been compared to Maggie Simpson and a gargoyle.

Lajeunesse says the terra cotta head — already melting away in the rain — is just the first try at a head and is merely temporary. The artist is working on a permanent stone substitute.

A local news outlet reports that the artist, who studied sculpture in college, will "probably seek advice from local headstone carving companies" before making the final product.

Meanwhile, Lajeunesse says he wasn't quite prepared for the backlash from hurt parishioners.

"I wasn't trained for this in seminary," he told von Stackelberg.

You can find the whole story at the CBC.

And for further reading, you might enjoy these tales of botched restorations:

  • the 19th century Ecce Homo fresco in Spain, painted over by a well-meaning parishioner
  • the crumbling section of the Great Wall of China that was paved over
  • the ancient tomb in Spain mistaken for a broken picnic table, and "fixed"
  • the Qing Dynasty frescoes painted over with cartoonish images
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    Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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