Sudbury

Baby Jesus statue will remain headless this Christmas

A decapitated statue of baby Jesus outside a Catholic church in northern Ontario will remain headless this Christmas, as the church says it will be months before the head can be reattached.

Saga began when vandals decapitated Sudbury, Ont. church statue last year

Baby Jesus' statue at Ste. Anne des Pines in Sudbury will remain headless at least for a few more months, according to the parish priest. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

A decapitated statue of baby Jesus outside a Catholic church in northern Ontario will remain headless this Christmas, as the church says it will be months before the head can be reattached.

The statue at the Ste. Anne des Pins parish in Sudbury, Ont., which was vandalized about a year ago, first captured the world's attention when it was fitted with a temporary clay head.

Baby Jesus' statue at Ste. Anne des Pines in Sudbury will remain headless at least for a few more months, according to the parish priest. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

The bright orange terracotta head, crafted by a local artist, prompted comparisons on social media to a character from "The Simpsons," and was later removed so it wouldn't stain the white stone of the statue.

The original head was recovered earlier this month after being stolen by someone the church described as a "troubled teen."
The original head belonging to a baby Jesus statue in Sudbury, Ont. was returned by a "troubled teen," says the church's priest Gerard Lajeunesse. (Sophie Houle-Drapeau/Radio Canada)

The church's priest, Gerald Lajeunesse, says it will be months before it can be reattached to the statue, partly due to logistical issues.

Lajeunesse said they have to decide who they should hire, how much it will cost, and what they need to do to prevent similar vandalism from happening again.

"It's a project that will take until May or June at least," Lajeunesse said. "It went through one winter headless, and I think that's what we will do this winter too."

'You'd split baby Jesus's head in half, and that would be a bad scene'

That may be for the best, said Tom Klaasen, the owner of Memorial Restorations in Sarnia, Ont. He mainly repairs tombstones, but said that he does statues too.

Restorations done in wet or snowy months may not last as long as those done in warm, dry environments, he said. It affects the adhesive used to patch the pieces together.

Waiting to fix the statue until next year could be best, according to a memorial repairer in Sarnia, Ont. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

And regardless of when it's done, he said, fixing a stone statue is careful work. You need to drill a hole deep into each piece of statue — eight to 16 centimetres, depending on the size of the pieces, Klaasen said —  and make sure they're perfectly aligned so the head is on straight.

Then, a fibreglass or stainless steel rod is inserted in each hole and it's patched up with epoxy.

But the hole can't be too shallow —  Lajeunesse said the statue lost its head at least once before the latest time, but it was quickly found. They reattached it with a small rod that only stuck out about two centimetres. It wasn't long enough to keep the head securely on.

And the hole can't be too deep either, Klaasen added.

"You'd split baby Jesus's head in half, and that would be a bad scene."

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But despite the precision needed, Klaasen said the work wouldn't take too long. Maybe a few hours, and $200 to $300 depending on who is hired.

That's just for reattaching the head.

Lajeunesse said there are other repairs that need to be made —  the Virgin Mary, who is holding the baby Christ — has a chip missing from her cheek, and the baby himself is missing his nose and a couple of fingers.

Plus, the church will need to decide whether to encase the statue with Plexiglas -- or something stronger -- to protect it from future vandalism.

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