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.
"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.
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